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BASEVI , Italian family of German origin, especially associated with Verona. In Hebrew, they called themselves Bath-Sheba and in abbreviation, Bash (ב״שׁ). The name Naphtali was common in the family, and therefore some of its members took a deer's head as their crest and became known as "Basevi Cervetto" (Italian: "little deer"), in accordance with the Blessing of Jacob (Gen. 49:21). Others took a boat as their crest, in accordance with the Blessing of Moses (Deut. 33:23), and became known as "Basevi della Gondola." It is not clear what precise relationship existed between this family and the Bassevi family of Prague (see *Bassevi, Jacob von Treuenberg). The brothers abraham and joseph, sons of Sabbatai Mattathias Bath-Sheba, were printers in Salonika (1594–1605). Abraham subsequently became a printer in Damascus (1605–06), while his brother had been a proofreader in the Verona press, a Midrash Tanḥuma appearing with his name (1595).

gioacchino (1780–1867), originally from Mantua, moved to Milan at the beginning of 19th century and was one of the earliest Italian Jews to attain distinction as a lawyer. He defended the Tyrolese hero Andreas Hofer in his trial for armed rebellion against Napoleon. In Milan, he wrote and published his principal works, Il commento al Codice Civile Austriaco (seven editions from 1845 to 1857) and Il Trattato delle leggi attinenti al Processo Civile (1850). emanuele (1799–1869) was a physician and medical writer from Pisa, where he took the university degree in 1817. In 1823 he published his first work, Discorso, and in 1824 L'esposizione della Medicina Fisiologica di Broussais. Among his other works were Cenni sulla Medicina Fisiologica confrontata colla Dottrina Medica Italiana (1825) and Sugli uffici del medico (1826). In 1825 the Grand Duke of Tuscany appointed him secretary of the Jewish community of Leghorn. abramo (1818–1885), although a qualified physician, devoted himself to music, composed some operas, launched the publication of musical texts, and organized popular orchestral concerts. He founded in Florence the Beethoven Matinées (1859) and afterwards the well-known Società del Quartetto, which exerted a great influence on Italian music life. His writings (e.g., Della Certezza, 1842) anticipated the theories of the American programists. Giuseppe Basevi (?–1884) from Verona was a rabbi in Sabbioneta, Spalato and Verona.

In the 18th century some of the Basevi family emigrated to England. nathan or naphtali (1738–1808), of Verona, settled in London in 1762 and was an early president of the *Board of Deputies of British Jews. His daughter, Maria, was the mother of Benjamin *Disraeli. The conversion of the Disraeli children in 1817 was followed by that of the family of JOSHUA, Maria's brother. A Lloyds underwriter, he moved to Brighton, where he was chairman of the magistrates from 1838 to 1843 and also a deputy lieutenant of the County of Sussex.

Joshua's son, nathaniel (1792–1869), was the first Jewish-born barrister to practice in England. Another son, george (1794–1845), an architect and a nephew of Maria d'Israeli, and himself a convert to Christianity, was articled to Sir John Soane, the most original British architect of his time. In 1816–19 Basevi traveled in Italy and Greece and his first buildings reveal the influences of classical architecture. These include St. Mary's Church, Greenwich, England, designed in 1823, when Basevi was 29 years old. His best-known building, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England, begun in 1836, already reveals a trend to more dramatic, baroque treatment which is fully evident in the famous building of the Conservative Club (now the Bath Club) of 1843, in St. James's Street, London, designed with Sydney Smirke. Earlier in his career Basevi designed several country houses and the main part of Belgrave Square, the largest and most elegant of early 19th century London thoroughfares. Basevi died as a result of a fall from the spire of Ely Cathedral, of which he was resident architect. Casts of a plaster bust of Basevi, attributed to T.I. Mazzotti, are in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the Soane Museum, London, and the Royal Institute of British Architects, London. Other members of the family include james palladio (1832–1871), Anglo-Indian surveyor and explorer; jacob basevi cervetto (1682–1783), generally known as James Cervetto, musician, who introduced the playing of the cello into England, and his illegitimate son, james cervetto (1746–1837), also a musician and one of the best cellists of his time. Both father and son composed various musical works, especially for the cello. Most of the members of this family were not professing Jews.

josef basewi (b. 1840) founded the Giuseppe Basewi sugar firm in Trieste, which attained considerable importance in opening Oriental markets to Austrian export.


A.M. Hyamson, Sephardim of England (1951), index; R. Blake, Disraeli (1966), index; Jamilly, in: jhset, 18 (1953–55), 133–4; Roth, in: Juedische Familien-Forschung, 4 (1928), 57–60; G. Bedarida, Ebrei d'Italia (1950), index. george basevi: Roth, Art; Victoria and Albert Museum, Anglo-Jewish Art and History (catalogue) (1956); The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture (1966); N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. add. bibliography: C. Roth, "La famiglia Basevi e le sue vicende," in: La Rassegna mensile di Israel, 36/2 (1970), 359–62; M. Mortara, Indice alfabetico dei rabbini e scrittori israeliti di cose giudaiche in Italia con richiami bibliografici e note illustrative (1886), 6.

[Vivian David Lipman /

Federica Francesconi (2nd ed.)]