Works for eternity
Important graphic collections, such as the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, the Graphische Sammlung Albertina, the Austrian National Library, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna will loan rare and precious exhibits for this show at Ambras Castle.
The exhibition will focus on the similarities between the Emperor Maximilian I and his great-grandson, Archduke Ferdinand II: with his ambitious plans for his tomb, the Emperor Maximilian I wanted to keep his memory alive for posterity, to live on as a chivalrous knight and great warrior chosen by fate to protect Christendom from the infidels. But he was equally interested in his own ancestry and heritage and that of the House of Habsburg, and this required extensive genealogical research. His historical perspective formed the basis for all his artisitc and litarary undertakings.
Archduke Ferdinand II intensified this approach and gave it a modern scholarly foundation. He completed his great-grandfather´s tomb and found much to inspire him, which he then developed further. Not only his graphic publications but also his collection of portraits and his Heldenrüstkammer (Armoury of Heroes) must be seen in this context. On show in the exhibition will be portraits, prints, suits-of-armour, and sculptures from the 15th and 16th century, all by outstanding masters such as, for example, Albrecht Durer, Albrecht Altdorfer, and Hans Burgmair.
Among the most outstanding works-of-art on show are two drawings by Albrecht Durer, executed betweem 1514 and 1518, from the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin. They are designs for the bronze figures of Ottobrecht and Count Albrecht of Habsburg for the tomb of the Emperor Maximilian I in the Hofkirche at Innsbruck. In addition, Florian Abel´s life-size design of the sarcophagus-like tomb (2,15m by 4,77m) will be on show in the exhibition for the first time (watercolour on paper, c. 1561).
Of the emperor´s large-scale and elaborate graphic publications individual sheets from the Ehrenpforte, and - in a facsimile version - the complete Triumphal Procession of the Emperor Maximilian, measuring a total of 55 m in length, will be on show. The wood-cut "Great Thriumphal Car", executed by Durer 1518-1522, shows the Emperor Maximilian enthroned on a thriumphal carriage flanked by virtues (Graphische Sammlung Albertina). It demonstrates the high standard of graphic art at the time.
Of Maximilian´s famous genealogical-autobiographical works "Weißkunig" (education), "Theuerdank" (bridal journey, and adventures), "Freydal" (tournaments),and the sumptuously illustrated story of Maximilian´s life, "Histora Friderici et Maximiliani" will be on show.
All this is contrasted with works commissioned by Archduke Ferdinand II, among them the magnificent collection of engravings "Imagines Gentis Austriacae" by Francesco Terzio running to several volumes with full-length portraits of Habsburg princes, their wives, relations, and real as well as legendary ancestors. A history book covering the period between Rudolf I and Charles V by the court historiographer, Gerhard de Roo, documents Archduke Ferdinand´s II particular interest in his own heritage and that of the House of Austria.
The exhibition also includes numerous portraits documenting court portraiture during the life of Maximilian and Ferdinand. Portraits depicting important persons have been selected from Archduke Ferdinand´s rich collection of portraits: the House of Habsburg´s extensive and illustrious relations, generals, scientists, poets, explorers and conquerors, but also famous women and Wundermenschen. In addition, suits-of-armour and magnificent arms that once belonged to the Emperor Maximilian and where later included in the collections of Archduke Ferdinand at Ambras castle will also be on show.