press release

The Habsburg Dynasty : 600 Years of Imperial Collections
150 Years Friendship Austria-Japan
19.10.2019 - 26.01.2020

After advancing into Austria in the late thirteenth century, the Habsburgs increased in power and established an extensive empire with Austria as their base. The House of Habsburg monopolized the sovereignty of Holy Roman Emperor from the fifteenth century onwards. When they branched into the Austrian and Spanish lineages in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the latter acquired territory in Asia, Africa, and America, truly realizing “an empire on which the sun never set.” Following the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire triggered by the Napoleonic Wars, the Habsburgs then governed the succeeding Austrian Empire (which was reorganized as the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy in 1867 and lasted until 1918). Having continued to rule over extensive territories and diverse races over several centuries, the House of Habsburg could indeed be regarded the most distinguished family in Europe.

Making the most of their wealth and networks, the Habsburgs are also known for having established some of the world’s leading collections, both quality and quantity-wise. Among them, the major items collected by the mainstream House of Habsburg continuously based in Austria formed the base of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien founded in 1891 under the auspices of Francis Joseph I, the “last emperor” of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Austria and Japan, with the cooperation of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, this exhibition introduces the collection through altogether 100 paintings, prints, works of art, tapestries, and armor in five chapters-seven sections. While presenting highly individual members of the House of Habsburg and the court life in those days, we shall also bring characteristics of the collecting in each period and how this collection was viewed to the fore. We hope you will enjoy the magnificent collection only a monarchy that reigned over the center of Europe for several centuries could have assembled.