Nozze ItalianeAustrian Archduchesses in Sixteenth-Century Italy
Archduke, later Emperor, Ferdinand I (1503-1563) married Princess Anne of Hungary and Bohemia (1503-1547); they had fifteen children of which three sons and ten daughters survived. Much of their childhood and adolescence was spent in Innsbruck: the family lived there between 1533 and 1543, and the unmarried daughters returned to the capital of Tyrol after the death of their mother in 1547.
Three of the girls, Eleanor, Barbara and Joanna, married Italian princes. In the sixteenth century Italy was a cultural and economic powerhouse, and rulers from central and west Europe vied with each other to increase their influence over the peninsular. The exhibition offers insights into the political and cultural situation of the Duchies of Mantua and Ferrara and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the new homes of the three princesses.
The Archduchesses exemplify a role typical for women of their class: they were pawns in marriage alliances planned and arranged by their fathers and brothers. Dynastic marriages could help increase a prince’s power-base, cement an alliance or a peace agreement, or serve as a signal of a radical political repositioning. Despite their common fate the lives of the three archduchesses did not run the same course, mainly because of their different characters and the conditions they encountered at their new courts and within their new families. Their biographies therefore also document the different ways open to a sixteenth-century noblewoman to arrange her life.
The exhibition showcases historical documents as well as artworks by, for example, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Alessandro Allori, Giovanni Bizzelli, Giambologna or Peter Paul Rubens from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and from Ambras as well as from various other museums, archives and libraries in Innsbruck and Italy.