The Winter Palace as the Belvedere’s new exhibition venue in Vienna’s city centre
Originally built as a lavish stately residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy, then acquired in the eighteenth century by Empress Maria Theresa before being used for the Court Treasury and later as the Ministry of Finance, this Baroque jewel in downtown Vienna has finally been restored to a centre of art and culture. With the opening of the Belvedere’s new – and fourth – exhibition venue, the principal rooms of Prince Eugene’s state apartments will be accessible to the public from 18 October 2013 on. Building on the historical legacy and far-reaching impact of the cosmopolitan prince, a further important art hub is to be established in Vienna’s city centre that will be fed by interactions between the town and the garden palace – the Winter Palace and the Belvedere: they have now been reunited after more than 260 years. Following the first exhibition, held in commemoration of the original owner’s 350th birthday, the primary objective will be to create an artistic dialogue between cultural heritage and contemporary art – an approach that has already been successfully implemented by important art institutions around the globe and at the Belvedere Palace itself. Along these lines, the staterooms in Vienna’s Himmelpfortgasse will become the place of an artistic encounter between baroque setting, the Belvedere’s collections, and contemporary art. The envisaged presentations will be developed in direct reference to the site and will result in inspiring new artworks created in situ whose relevance will not least be based on the unique ambience and history of the place. Vital starting points will be the city palace’s architecture and the former collections of the prince, as well as those of the Belvedere.
Marking the 350th birthday of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the opening exhibition at the Winter Palace, an internationally acclaimed Baroque landmark, focuses on the cosmopolitan’s biography, the architectural history of the palace, and the military achievements of its former owner. Selected objects from various genres blend in with and enhance the existing structure of the staterooms. While the show illustrates Prince Eugene’s personal career and family background, the section on the building’s history sheds light on the original appearance of the palace’s interior.
The Winter Palace and the history of its construction and interior decoration impressively illustrate Prince Eugene’s social rise. Having originally arrived at the Habsburg court in 1683 as a penniless refugee, he died in 1736 the owner of several palaces. As a military commander and diplomat, the former owner of the palace achieved lasting fame and wealth. It therefore comes as no surprise that he had his military successes memorialized in his town palace in the form of a series of large-scale battle paintings by Ignace-Jacques Parrocel. In addition, the exhibits include numerous portraits of relatives and contemporarie. The transformation of the staterooms into a museum has made it possible for the Belvedere to reconnect Prince Eugene’s town and garden palaces after the elapse of several centuries. In our autumn exhibition at his first Vienna-based residence, the prince’s life is made tangible in the form of selected objects. The Winter Palace is not an austere exhibition venue in the traditional sense, so that the dialogue between staterooms and exhibits produces a special tension that conveys an impressive image of the period in question.
Daily 10 am to 6 pm
Himmelpfortgasse 8, 1010 Vienna
+43 1 795 57 134