Lucas Lichtenhan

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Lucas Lichtenhan (born June 28, 1898 as Richard Lichtenhahn in Basel ; † September 8, 1969 there ) was a Swiss art historian , curator and art dealer.


Lucas Lichtenhan grew up in his parents' house on Stiftsgasse in Basel's old town. From 1913 he was at the grammar school of the Evangelical Institute in Schiers. There he met u. a. Christoph Bernoulli , also from Basel, Zaccaria Giacometti and the three years younger Alberto Giacometti , who started school in autumn 1915 at the age of fourteen. He had a close friendship with Alberto Giacometti beyond his school days. After graduating from high school, he majored in German literature, with a minor in philosophy and art history at the University of Basel a. a. with Friedrich Rintelen , professor of art history. The friendship with Rintelen was decisive for Lichtenhan's turn to the visual arts. After receiving his doctorate in 1925, he worked as an art dealer. In 1934 he was elected curator of the Basler Kunsthalle on the recommendation of Wilhelm Barth . In the following sixteen years he curated many important and successful exhibitions there. During this time, the Kunsthalle Basel was an institute that was respected throughout Europe.

Lichtenhan was an art lover and enjoyed international renown as a connoisseur of 19th century French art. In guided tours through the exhibitions, he was able to inspire the public with his extensive knowledge of the works of art. In addition to regularly paying attention to the Basel artists, he has repeatedly shown the great Swiss artists of the 19th and 20th centuries: Koller, Buchser, Auberjonois , Hodler , Meyer-Amden , Vallotton. When art transports across the border were almost impossible during the Second World War, the contacts he had made with artists, collectors and museums in Switzerland during his activity as an art dealer helped him to continue programming high-quality exhibitions. The exhibitions in autumn 1947 with works by Vincent van Gogh and in spring 1948 with works by Auguste Rodin were an extraordinary success with 35,000 visitors each. In his last major exhibition for the Kunsthalle, the Impressionist exhibition in 1949 with 244 works, Claude Monet's water lily pictures were shown outside of France for the first time.

After his health-related resignation in 1949, he returned to the art trade and ran the Pro Arte gallery on Aeschengraben in Basel with an international clientele. However, he was responsible for other exhibitions in the art gallery. Together with his friend Christoph Bernoulli, Lichtenhan organized the first public presentation of works by Alberto Giacometti after the Second World War (1950). There the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation acquired a sculpture and two paintings for the Kunstmuseum Basel - the first purchase for a Swiss museum. A large retrospective by Goya with more than two hundred works was also planned by him and opened in 1953 by his successor Robert Thomas Stoll.

Lucas Lichtenhan was married and had two children.

"Through his work at the Kunsthalle and as a private agent, Lucas Lichtenhan has left a lot of traces in Basel."

Exhibitions (selection)

See also: List of the exhibitions in the Kunsthalle Basel supervised by Lucas Lichtenhan

Works and literature

  • Lucas Lichtenhan: Hölderlin as a politician , dissertation, Basel 1923.
  • Lucas Lichtenhan: Paul Burckhardt: 48 reproductions of paintings and drawings , Basel 1943.
  • Henry Toulouse-Lautrec , exhibition catalog, Gothenburg 1955.
  • Lucas Lichtenhan, Contributions to Art , Basel 1958.
  • Lukas Gloor: 150 Years of the Basler Kunstverein , 1839–1989, Basel 1989, pp. 183–185.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The request to change the name was approved by resolution of the government council of the canton of Basel-Stadt on May 15, 1936. Lucas was his nickname from early childhood.
  2. ^ Alberto Giacometti. Catalog raisonné des estampes, Paris / Bern 2016
  3. ^ Basler Nachrichten, September 9, 1969
  4. 150 Years of Basler Kunstverein , 1839–1989, Basel 1989, p. 385.
  5. Maria Netter: On the resignation of Dr. Lucas Lichtenhan , Werk, issue 12, December 1949, pages 174-175
  6. 150 Years of Basler Kunstverein , 1839–1989, Basel 1989, p. 185