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History returns on a silver platter

Four silver plates nearly five centuries old have been repatriated from Britain to Switzerland.

This content was published on August 26, 2009 - 15:21

The pieces, created by Swiss Renaissance painter Urs Graf in 1519, were purchased by the Basel History Museum and the Swiss National Museum from the British Museum for £400,000 (SFr694,000).

The nearly palm-sized silver plates were crafted for the monastery at St Urban. They had been most recently owned by the St George Church at Hanover Square in London, which had placed them on permanent loan to the British Museum.

Part of a series, several had already returned to Switzerland in 1890. The National Museum will now display six and the museum in Basel will display two.

Graf, born in 1485 in Solothurn, is considered the most important Swiss draftsman, engraver and goldsmith of the Renaissance. He is most noted for his woodcuts.

A citizen of Basel later in life, Graf ran aground with authorities for beating his wife and his support of prostitution. He was a mercenary.

Graf quit Basel in 1518 after being accused of attempted murder. He returned a year later but disappeared in 1527. The date of his death is unknown.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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