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Emperor Charles V.

Europe´s Power and Powerlessness

Emperor Charles V was born 500 years ago, on February 24, 1500. The Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna has taken this event as an opportunity to dedicate the exhibition "Emperor Charles V: The Power and Powerlessness of Europe to the most important ruler of his time. The foundations for present-day Europe were laid during the epoch of Charles V. That applies as much to politics as it does to the sciences, the plastic arts and music.

The exhibition brings this epoch to life for visitors. An extremely wide variety of objects and artworks, documents, portraits and prints as well as personal items that belonged to the emperor, such as his armour, travel altar and prayer books provide a fascinating impression of this era on the threshold to the Modern Age and of its discoveries, which continue to shape our world view.

Vienna has played a special role in mounting this exhibition, which involves the participation of Belgium, Germany and Austria, because the collections of the Kunsthistorische Museum are particularly rich in artworks from the 16th century. Many of them are objects that members of the ruling House of Habsburg commissioned or collected at the time of Charles V.

Precious works on loan from international institutions such as the Prado, the Louvre, the Uffizi, the Treasury of the Munich Residenz and the Deutsche Historische Museum in Berlin complement works from the collections of the Kunsthistorische Museum and complete the exhibition.

Paintings by Titian, Correggio, Dürer, Cranach, Parmigianino and Seisenegger are on display along with busts by Leoni Leone. Writings from the pen of Charles V and other contemporary documents illustrate the political activity of the emperor. These provide a view of a bygone way of life and clarify political contexts and processes. Globes, clocks, scientific instruments and publications of the 16th century explain new and revolutionary developments in astronomy, shipping technology, mining, trade, botany and medicine.

A highlight of this wonderful exhibition is the famous series of tapestries of the Tunis campaign of Charles V from the Royal Palace in Madrid. Today the patterns for these works by Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen are owned by the Kunsthistorische Museum. Thus the museum has the unique opportunity of presenting under one roof both the models and the large-scale tapestries woven of wool, silk, gold and silver.


16 June 2000
to 17 September 2000

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