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Exhibition About

 About the Exhibition

This sweeping exhibition showcases the amazing history of the Austrian Habsburg Emperors, who commissioned and collected households full of masterpieces by which to display their power. It focuses particularly on the three periods of their greatest flourishing.

Period I | 13th–16th century

The first section of this exhibition relates the history of the Habsburgs from the dynasty’s origins in the 13th century until the 16th century. The central figure is Maximilian I, during whose reign the Habsburgs achieved world-power status. You’ll see how an international network of political and family relations aided in the amassing of unique collections of art.

Period II | 17th and 18th centuries

Devoted to the Age of the Baroque, the second block explores the art, culture, and politics of the 17th and 18th centuries. During this period the House of Habsburg dies out in both Spanish and Austrian male lines, provoking considerable political complications and the loss of Spain. A female heiress, Maria Theresa, succeeded in establishing her right to rule as heir to the Austrian line, becoming the final ruler of the House of Habsburg. Visitors will discover the role of religion, art, and court festivities as instruments propagating the dynasty’s self‐image and claim to rule. Key figures include Leopold Wilhelm, Leopold I, Charles VI, and Maria Theresa.

Period III | 19th and 20th centuries

The early 19th century saw the final demise of the Holy Roman Empire and the establishment of the hereditary Austrian Empire. With the growth of nationalism, the empire would be transformed into the dual monarchy of Austria‐Hungary. Key figures of this period are Francis II (I) and Franz Joseph. This section explores the long reign of Emperor Franz Joseph, the founding of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and the creation of the multinational empire. This empire, characterized by a highly hierarchical social order, is represented by the lavish gowns of the imperial court. At the end of World War I in 1918, it dissolved into its component parts, bringing almost 600 years of Habsburg rule in Europe to an end.

Exhibition Preview

Pompeo Batoni Emperor Joseph II (1741-1790) with Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo of Tuscany (1747-1792) (Detail), 1769, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Johann Permann Alchemical Medallion (Detail), 1677, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Antonio Susini, After: Giovanni Bologna Deianira Abducted by the Centaur Nessus (Detail), 4th quarter of the 16th century, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Hans Jakob I. Bachmann Ivory Tankard with Lid (Detail) 1642, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Jan Thomas Margarita Teresa & Emperor Leopold I – framed (Detail), from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Jacopo Robusti:Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto Susanna and the Elders (Detail), ca. 1555/56, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Bernardo Bellotto, called Canaletto The Imperial Summer Residence of Schönbrunn, Courtyard Side (Detail), ca. 1759/61, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Giuseppe Arcimboldo Fire (Detail), 1566, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Hans Holbein Jane Seymour (Detail), ca. 1536/37, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Peter Paul Rubens Lamentation of Christ (Detail), 1614, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Antonio Allegri: Antonio Allegri, called Correggio Jupiter and Io (Detail), ca. 1530, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez Infanta Maria Teresa (Detail), ca. 1652/53, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio The Crowning with Thorns (Detail), ca. 1602/1604, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Giorgio da Castelfranco, called Giorgione Three Philosophers (Detail), ca. 1508/1509, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian Danaë (Detail), ca. 1554, from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna