Maria Theresa (1717-1780) was the most significant advocate of enlightened absolutism and one of the most famous Habsburgs of all time. The daughter of Karl VI, she pushed through numerous far-reaching reforms during her rule (1740-1780). As a devout Catholic, she demonstrated little tolerance towards followers of other religious denominations. She bore her husband Franz I Stephan 16 children, which saw her romanticised as a symbolic mother figure. To mark the 300th anniversary of her birth the large-scale 300 Years of Maria Theresa: Strategist – Mother – Reformer exhibition (www.mariatheresia2017.at) will take up residence at four locations in Vienna and Lower Austria:
Imperial Carriage Museum Vienna: Women Power and Joie de Vivre
The Imperial Carriage Museum Vienna explores the way that Maria Theresa presented herself, caught as she was between the sometimes conflicting notions of her identity as a woman and ‘male’ sovereign might. Magnificent carriages and items of clothing bring the opulence of the imperial court and ceremony to life.
Imperial Furniture Collection: Family and Legacy
In the Hofmobilieninspektion, an institution founded by Maria Theresa in 1747 to administer the court’s furniture holdings, a new exhibition looks at the family circle, Maria Theresa’s personal destiny, her dynastic marriage policy and her status as a mythic figure that endures long after her death.
Schloss Hof: Alliances and Enmities
In 1775 Maria Theresa ordered her courtesans to furnish a widow’s apartment for her at her country estate in Lower Austria. A new exhibition in the piano nobile of the stately home looks at the difficulties surrounding her accession to power, wars and peace treaties, territorial losses and gains, through the prism of Maria Theresa’s foreign and domestic political will.
Schloss Belvedere: Modernisation and Reforms
Located in the Marchfeld region of Lower Austria like Schloss Hof, the small and intimate Schloss Niederweiden was used for hunting parties and social gatherings. At this exhibition venue the focus will be on the major domestic reforms enacted by Maria Theresa that changed the face of the state forever.
The Austrian National Library is also celebrating the monarch’s birth 300 years ago with an exhibition of its own. To this day, the nation’s matriarch is a symbol of her dynasty and the most important female ruler of the Habsburg Empire. Numerous reforms date back to her rule. The Maria Theresa. Habsburgs’ Most Powerful Woman exhibition presents various highlights from the richly-stocked vaults of the Austrian National Library.
During the jubilee year the Belvedere will be looking at the empress’ relationship with the fine arts at the upcoming 300th Birthday of Maria Theresa exhibition. The show looks at the major disciplines of her day such as portrait painting, portrait sculpture, allegorical painting and landscape painting.
The Coin Collection at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna contains a first-class collection of Maria Theresa’s medallions, both in terms of quantity and quality. The Maria Theresa’s Medallions exhibition provides a fascinating insight into all stages of the ruler’s life through the looking glass of these commemorative coins.
Klosterneuburg Monastery, located just outside Vienna, is also participating in the 300th anniversary celebrations. Entitled Church, Monastery, Empress. Maria Theresa and Sacred Austria, its temporary exhibition documents the myriad of relationships between the church and the ruling dynasty.
300 Years of Maria Theresia:
Strategist – Mother – Reformer, Mar 15-Nov 29, 2017
- Imperial Carriage Museum Vienna, Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse, 1130 Vienna, www.khm.at
- Imperial Furniture Collection. Andreasgasse 7, 1070 Vienna, www.hofmobiliendepot.at
- Schloss Hof, Schlosshof 1, 2294 Schlosshof, www.schlosshof.at
- Schloss Niederweiden, Niederweiden, 2292 Engelhartstetten, www.schlosshof.at
- Maria Theresa. Habsburgs’ Most Powerful Woman, Feb 17-Jun 5 2017, Austrian National Library, Josefsplatz 1, 1010 Vienna, www.onb.ac.at
- 300th Anniversary of Maria Theresa’s Birth, Jun 30-Nov 5, 2017, Belvedere - Lower Belvedere & Orangery, Rennweg 6, 1030 Vienna, www.belvedere.at
- Maria Theresa’s Medallions Mar 28, 2017-Feb 18, 2018, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Coin Collection, Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna, www.khm.at
- Church, Monastery, Empress. Maria Theresa and Sacred Austria, Mar 4-Nov 15, 2017, Klosterneuburg Monastery, Kaiserzimmer, Stiftsplatz 1, 3400 Klosterneuburg, www.stift-klosterneuburg.at