Princely Palaces After the Age of Revolutions…

Princely Palaces After the Age of Revolutions: Museum making and production of ideology

Session chair:

Per Widén,

PhD,[email protected] [email protected]+46 (0)706-71 76 74Dept. of History of Science and Ideas, Uppsala University, 2011Dept. of Art history, Uppsala University, 2011TEMA Q, Linköping University/EUNAMUS project, 2010-2011Project manager, digitalization and web-publication of the Swedish Dictionary of National Biography, Riksarkivet, 2009-2011



Prince Eugene’s Belvedere: The Visual Culture of Orientalism from the 18th to the 21st Century

Associate Professor Jørgen Bakke, Coordinator of The Cultural History of Nature Research Group
Dept. of Linguistic, Literary, and Aesthetic Studies, University of Bergen, Norway, [email protected]

This paper will examine how the motive of the skyline of Vienna as portrayed in a cityscape by Canaletto from the 18th century has developed from a traditional topos of Western Orientalism into an emblem of current day islamophobia. The motive of the skyline of Vienna goes back to late medieval times, and can be found in many printed versions from the 16th century and onwards. The most popular printed motives portray the two Ottoman sieges of Vienna in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it is this pictorial tradition that Canaletto relates to in his portrait of Vienna as seen from Prince Eugene’s Upper Belvedere Palace just outside the city. In earlier portraits of Vienna the foreground of the city is often occupied by large military forces engaged in full scale battle. In scenes from 1529 and 1683 an Ottoman army is camping outside the Viennese city gates, and often these scenes are portrayed with the pronounced features of oriental chaos. The foreground of Canaletto’s Viennese cityscape is, however, dominated by the calm geometry of Prince Eugene’s baroque garden. Most recently Canaletto’s view has been used as an emblem by the extreme right wing blog ”Gates of Vienna,” which has been singled out as the most important on-line inspiration for the 2011 terrorist attacks on the Norwegian government district in Oslo, and on the Norwegian Social-Democratic Party’s youth camp at Utøya. The aim of this paper is to show how the optical relationship between palace architecture, garden design, territory, and the view of Vienna created a symbolic opportunity to contrast the optics of Western rational order against Oriental chaos.
The suburban baroque Belvedere palace outside Vienna has during its 300 years of history served as the arena of significant historical and cultural events. The Palace consists of a lower and an upper Palace, a palace garden with and Orangerie as well as an Aviary (collection of living birds). Prince Eugene made his fortune as the most successful general of the Habsburg army, where he played a crucial role in driving the military forces of the Ottomans out of Central Europe in the late 17th century. In is own day Prince Eugene became an important symbol of the battle against the Ottomans. He was, however, also a great patron of the arts. Most of Prince Eugene’s own art collection was sold by his relatives after his death in 1736. The Belvedere Palace was aquired by the Emperess Maria Theresia in 1752, and in 1779 she opened the palace garden to the public. It was also Maria Theresia who comissioned the Belvedere view of Vienna from Canaletto. In 1776 Maria Theresia’s son and co-regent, Joseph II, had also transferred the Imperial art collection to the Upper Belvedere, and in 1781 the galleries of the Upper Belvedere was opened to the public as one of the first public art museums in Europe. Prince Eugene’s Belvedere Palace has had an important role in the development of the display modes of the modern European art historical museum because it was here, under the direction of the Basel scholar Christian von Merchel, that paintings for the first time were hung according to artistic ’schools.’ Although it was reused for some time (1897-1914) as the residence of the heir to the Austrian throne Archduke Ferdinand, its more recent history as a National Gallery of Austrian art goes back to the establishment of the Österreichisches Gallerie in 1903. Because of its role as imperial residence the Belvedere Palace has also housed important dynastic events such as the engagement in 1770 of the Archduchess Maria Antoinette to the young Duke of Berry, the future king Louis XVI of France. The state treaty that finally lifted the allied occupation of Austria was signed at the Belvedere Palace in 1955.
Prince Eugene’s suburban palace was built during a period of extensive constructions in Vienna. Because the threat of the Ottomans had now been supressed by the Habsburg army, the agricultural district around the renaissance forfications of Vienna also became the scene of large building projects, like the spectacular Karlskirche 200 meters from the former urban fortifications. It was of great symbolic significance that Prince Eugene, who had been instrumental in the military strategy of the Habsburg army to drive the Ottomans out of Central Europe, also choose to build his summer residence in a landscape that only a few decades ago had been swarming with Ottoman soldiers. Against the background of the central role that the Belvedere Palace has had on the development of display modes in Western European art museums, the historical survey in this paper will also point at another influences that this institution has had on European visual culture. As an architectural monument the Belvedere Palace exemplifies the princely baroque of early 18th century Central Europe, as an art museum the Belvedere Palace became the laboratory for a way of thinking about art history that would dominate European art history for the next couple of centuries, and as a visual machine the Belvedere Palace also contributed to a way of viewing the opposition between the Occident and the Orient at a time in history when this conflict was unfolding in the military battle fields of Central Europe. As is illustrated by the case of the current ”Gates of Vienna” blog, this contribution has also had a more recent Wirkungsgeschichte in the darker corners of European visual culture.


Making History Present: The Display of National Portrait Collections at Castles

M.A. Charlotta Krispinsson, PhD Candidate, Dept. of Art history, Stockholm University, Sweden, [email protected]

The history of the rise and growth of the public art museum is well known. After the French revolution, the previously royal art collections fell into the ownership of the new nation states. At the new museums, art became publicly available for a new public to gaze and marvel at, study and learn from, or just feeling distracted or bored by. As shown by Charlotte Klonk, the history of how museums have tried to counteract the experience of museum fatigue through different concepts of display is parallel to the development of the public art museums. Museum skepticism, David Carrier argues, developed as a fear that artworks displayed in the museum had lost its former value when isolated from their original contexts. When artworks from different origins were gathered closely together at the walls of the museums, they turned instead into dead objects.
At the same time as museums were filled with paintings during the 19th century, the genre of portraits was not as easily displayed. Especially with regard to portraits of royalty and aristocracy, portraits were often more closely associated with the historical person represented, than with the artist and the possible value of the painting as an art historical example of a ’national school’. When the royal collections in Denmark and Sweden fell into the ownership of the state, the majority of the portraits were gathered in separate collections. Instead of moving them into the art museum of the city, as was the case with most other paintings, they were kept and exhibited in the royal castles of Gripsholm in Sweden, and Frederiksborg in Denmark. Here, the portrait collections were displayed in historical interiors, where the material culture of the royal past helped to highlight a history of the nation narrated through the portraits of its royalties, ‘great men’ and personalities.  Similar cases of display can be found in the Musée Historique at Versailles between 1837 and 1948, as well as in the relocation of parts of the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London from 1975 and onward to the period rooms of selected castles and houses in the country side.
The aim of my paper is to discuss the concept of displaying national portrait collections in castles as a way to avoid visitors fatigue and the ‘death’ of the portraits.  The display of portraits of more or less well known historical individuals in historical interior settings, I would argue, were an attempt to make them and the history of the nation that they represented ‘present’ to the visitors in a more powerful way than possible by the public art museums.


The Narrative of the Bernadotte Gallery – From a royal picture gallery to a dynastic museum display for the 20th century

M.A. Rebecka Millhagen, PhD-candidate, Dept. of Art history, Uppsala University, Sweden

[email protected]

The Lower Gallery, located on the first floor in the middle of the north wing of the Royal Palace in Stockholm, has since its creation in the 1730s and up to the present day, undergone several extensive redecorations and refurnishings which have transformed the gallery in radical ways. At times the gallery has been given a distinctly museum-like function, and at other time periods it has been serving as a reception room or as a series of private rooms in the internal structure and ritual of the palace.
The changing spatial arrangements in the Bernadotte Gallery, as it was renamed in the the early 20th century, illustrate how certain rooms and apartments in the royal residence have been crucial to the process of display and dynastic legitimization. As they have gradually become more accessible to the general public in the 20th century they have come to play a decisive role in the narrative of the Royal Palace and the portrayal of the monarchy in the course of Swedish history, thereby strengthening the palace’s status as a national heritage.
This paper will address the creation of a dynastic portrait gallery in the Lower Gallery following the death of Queen Sofia in 1913, the work of the art historian John Böttiger, Director of the Royal Collection. It will analyse the new display and dynastic aims against the background of earlier transformations in the 1780s, 1850s and 1880s, and further discuss the changes in the image of the royal residence as a national monument with museum-like functions.


«Initial Palaces» of the Romanov Dynasty: Historical Fiction and the Emergence of Historic House-Museums in 19-th Century

Professor Larisa Nikiforova, Dept. of Museum Studies and Protection of Monuments (with assistance of The State Hermitage Museum). St.Petersburg State University, Russia, [email protected]

The purpose of the report is to explain the relationship between palaces and historical houses-museums as a special type of museums – houses where the great people lived for a certain period of time. The displayed content of such museums reconstructed the private life of famous people. Houses-museums of writers, painters, scientists, statesmen represent the pantheon of national glory, and not in the sense of greatness, but in the aspect of everyday life. The items collected in the historical houses-museums are important not only for the skills of their creator, but for having been touched by a great person.
In Russia (perhaps not only in Russia) the forms of non-ecclesiastical veneration of artefacts were related with rulers, their palaces and signs of power. Cult of Peter I was the leading component of the Russian emperor’s “scenarios of power” (R. Wortman), especially in 18th century. Peter’s wooden house was preserved in Saint-Petersburg,  Peter’s bedroom and some of his personal belongings were kept in Peterhoff (Monplaisir palace). However these places were not museums in their modern sense. The attitude to Peter the Great’s things and places was similar to the veneration of the holy relics; the visit to his bedroom was sort of a ceremony or rite;  Peter I’s wooden house functioned as a chapel until the 1920s. Modern scholars define this attitude as “civil cult”. But for a long time it was exactly a cult with quasi-religious (not museum) forms of artefacts veneration.
So called “lament rooms” organized in the beginning of the 19th century in some places may be considered the predecessors of modern historic house-museums. Such rooms were created after the tragic and mysterious deaths of the emperors Paul I and Alexander I (Gatchina Imrerial Palace; Schloss Fall Count Alexander von Benckendorff; estate Akhtyrka of  prince Trubetzkoy).  These private memorials combined the forms of quasi-religious veneration of the emperor with “culture of sensibility” (demonstration of emotions) relevant for sentimentalism.
First memorial houses-museums emerged in the middle of the 19th century when three ancient 17th century houses were restored. They were related to the history of Mikhail Fedorovich’s, the first Russian Tsar of the house of Romanov, ascension to the throne. These houses were named “initial palaces” in the 19th century. During the restoration they were given the appearance of palaces in the manner of the 17th century. The discovery of these houses simultaneously as historical sites and dynastic shrines, as well as collection of artefacts and the creation of exposition happened rather quickly – from the 1830s to the 1860s, and may be traced in details. What are these “initial palaces”?Boyars Romanovs` Chambers in Ipatiev Monastery (Kostroma-city). When Mikhail Romanov (aged sixteen) was elected to Russian throne in March, 1613 by Zemsky Sobor, he was living in the monastery with his mother, nun Marfa. The Great Embassy was sent from Moscow to Kostroma to announce this news. The ceremony of Mikhail Romanov’s proclamation as tsar took place in Holy Trinity Cathedral of the monastery. Boyars Romanovs` Chambers (monk cells) in Ipatiev Monastery became attended by visitors in 1817, the chambers were restored twice, in 1834 and in 1859-1863. The Romanovs` Chambers were removed from the possession of the monastery, and the public Museum was opened there in 1863.
The Terem palace in Moskow Kremlin (the first stone quarters in the Kremlin Tsar’s palace, picturesque appearance, built in 1635-1638). Original interiors, except for separate fragments, have not survived. They were created anew and styled after 17th century during the restoration of the ancient monument. Later, in 1839-1849, new Grand Kremlin Palace was erected, it was the new magnificent emperor’s residence. And the Terem Palace was included into the new complex of palatial buildings. It should be mentioned that at the same time New House of Parliament in London (New Westminster Palace) in a similar way embraced the ancient Westminster Hall.  From the middle of the 19th century the Terem Palace turned into a court museum and later a government museum. It has been the government museum until nowadays, manifesting the profoundness of historical roots of power.
Boyars Romanovs` Chambers in Moscow (historical district Zaryadye), were restored in 1857-1858 and opened as a public museum in 1859. The whole setting represented boyar’s everyday life of the 17th century as it was conceived in the 19th. The central core of the exposition was the atmosphere of future tsar’s childhood. But the idea that Mikhail Romanov had spent his childhood there was more a legend than a fact supported by historical evidence.  This is the place where previously Boyars Romanov’s estate was situated from the 16th century, later, in 17th century there was a monastery. The buildings burnt and were rebuilt various times. Besides, the building was nearly constructed from scratch. It was rather a construction than reconstruction, rather a birth than rebirth.
Creation of Historic house-museums was a completely new phenomenon for that time. It is accepted to interconnect this with two trends – with historical knowledge general development and ideology of power. Meanwhile, historical imagination – supplementing historical facts with fiction, filling lacunas with details together with interest to private life that was absent in historical documents – played a great part in creation of this type of museums. Another reason was the intention to create a continued historical narrative filled with characters, details, images, relations and emotions where personal biography and family history are the projection of the history of the state.
All together these three “initial palaces” represented the topography of the Romanov dynasty enthronement and at the same time the biography of Mikhail Romanov – his childhood, adolescence and adulthood. At the end of the 19th century – beginning of the 20th century these museums were perceived as chapters of a whole historical novel.