Franz Joseph 1830-1916 On the occasion of the centenary of the Emperor’s death
100 year ago, Emperor Franz Joseph died amidst the turmoil of the First World War. An occasion to take stock of this historical personality. Exhibition from March 16 until November 27, 2016 in Vienna and Lower Austria.
Franz Joseph I was just eighteen when he ascended the Austrian throne in 1848, the year of the revolution, and he would go on to have an enduring influence on the history of Europe during the sixty-eight years of his reign. After losing two wars, against Piedmont-Sardinia and France in 1859 and Prussia and Italy in 1866, he concentrated on the internal development of his lands. He made skilful use of the dramatic attempt on his life in 1853 to improve his image, eventually evolving into a figurehead of the multinational state.
Even blows of fate such as the suicide of his only son Rudolf or the assassination of his beloved wife on the shore of Lake Geneva contributed to the idealization of Franz Joseph as a historical figure, in the sense of his much-quoted utterance “I am spared nothing”. As the first emperor to make extensive use of media, Franz Joseph exploited ceremonial occasions such as his silver wedding anniversary, his birthday and the jubilees of his reign to consolidate his public image, even though in private he led a spartan lifestyle. But however much Franz Joseph was seen as the figure that held the Monarchy together, the political decisions he took ultimately led to its collapse. His death a century ago, amidst the turmoil of the First World War, provides the occasion to take stock of this historical personality.
Taking place at four different locations in Vienna and Lower Austria, the exhibition Franz Joseph 1830-1916 – On the occasion of the centenary of the Emperor’s death explores the life and work of this symbol and emperor of the Danube Monarchyfrom many different perspectives. Thus ‘Man & Monarch’ (Schönbrunn Palace), ‘Majesty & Modesty’ (Imperial Carriage Museum Vienna at Schönbrunn), ‘Festivities & Everyday Life’ (Hofmobiliendepot Imperial Furniture Collection) and ‘Hunting & Recreation’ (Schloss Niederweiden) are themes that focus on Franz Joseph as an individual but also include his role as an actor on the political stage.
Franz Joseph was born at Schönbrunn Palace on 18 August 1830 and died there on 21 November 1916. Impressive carriages, magnificent trappings and exquisite ceremonial dress from major events in the emperor’s life up to and including his final journey to the imperial crypt are carefully preserved at the Imperial Carriage Museum Vienna in Schönbrunn. The Hofmobiliendepot / Imperial Furniture Collection not only houses original furniture from his time but is also lends itself perfectly to presenting the emperor and his use of various media to bolster his public image.
Franz Joseph’s favourite hunting grounds were without doubt those around his villa in Bad Ischl. However, there could hardly be a better place to present the subject of hunting than the palatial hunting lodge of Niederweiden, designed by Fischer von Erlach at the behest of Count von Starhemberg, with its authentically furnished game kitchen. With the temporary exhibition at Schloss Niederweiden Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H. will be opening a new exhibition centre in Lower Austria, awakening this architectural jewel to new life.
Temporary exhibition at Schönbrunn (Palace and Imperial Carriage Museum Vienna), the Hofmobiliendepot / Imperial Furniture Collection and Schloss Niederweiden (Lower Austria) from March 16 until November 27, 2016.