The Lower Belvedere after Prince Eugene

© Belvedere, Vienna
© Belvedere, Vienna
Photo: Margherita Spiluttini © Belvedere, Wien
© Belvedere, Vienna

In 1752, Maria Theresia acquired the whole Belvedere complex without using it at that time. The imperial Arcieren-leibgarde (Bodyguard of Archers) obtained parts of the Lower Belvedere from 1764 until end of the Monarchy. At that time, the orange wing adjacent to the corps de logis was adapted for residential purposes. From time to time in the following period, members of the imperial family resided there including Princess Marie Thérèse Charlotte, daughter of Louis XIV, and Marie Antoinette.

In 1766, Maria Thérèse got the thirteen marble statues of rulers shifted from House Habsburg into the lower palace. This intention to get a stately home imprinted with a Habsburg mark through a family gallery was carried forward in the 1770’s with both statues of the imperial pair of Franz Xaver Messeschmidt and paintings. The large statues had to give way in 1800 when the archduke Ferdinand, who had lost his country, moved here with his family until 1804.

Through the treaty of Peace of Pressburg, signed on 26th December 1805, Tirol and Vorarlberg were ceded to Bavaria. As a result, the collections of Ambrase were carted off and put up in the Lower Belvedere in the end. Already at the occasion of the Vienna Congress in 1814/15, large parts of it were in display. Besides the artistic treasures from Tirol, the imperial collections of Egyptian and antique art were also presented in the Lower Belvedere in course of the 19th century. These collections were brought into the newly built Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) at Burgring in 1891.

Between 1899 and 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand lived with his family in the Upper Belvedere. At that time,  the neighbouring buildings of the Lower Belvedere housed the military chancellery and a garage.

The search for spaces to house a museum of contemporary art lead to the decision in 1900 to use the Lower Belvedere as an exhibition building and in 1903, the Modern Gallery was opened there. For the antique imperial collections, including the numerous newly added objects from Ephesus, the east section of the Lower Belvedere was adapted. From 1923 till 2007, the Austrian Baroque Museum was housed in the Lower Belvedere, which then extended over the whole area in the palace after the transfer of Ephesus collections in 1934. After basic restoration work was carried out, this building is used for special exhibitions today.  

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