HABSBURGS IN THE USA
A traveling exhibition brings jewels from one of Europe’s most important royal houses to Houston and Atlanta.
Visitors wandering around Vienna’s imperial museums today may be wondering where all the good stuff is. The answer, for now, is at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, as part of an exhibit entitled “Hapsburg Splendor: Masterpieces from Vienna’s Imperial Collections.”(After September 13, the exhibit will travel on to Atlanta. It was previously in Minneapolis.
The exhibit explores artwork — including costumes, carriages, and of course, paintings — from Europe’s most important ruling family. It was curated by the director of the Imperial Carriage Museum in Vienna, Monica Kurzel-Runtscheiner. She introduces the exhibit in the lecture below entitled “The Power of Representation,” given at the Minneapolis Institute of Art when the exhibit traveled there. It all began with Maximilian, Holy Roman Emperor, whom she refers to as “the first PR professional in European history” for his innovations in self-mythology: for example, falsely claiming royal relatives, drawing parallels between himself and divine figures as well as heroic emperors from antiquity. Kurzel-Runtscheiner goes on to discuss how the Habsburgs commissioned artists to promote their legacy and might.