Western rooms, Schönbrunn Palace

In the western wing of the Schönbrunn Palace, there are the living quarters of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth from the 19th century. The interiors of the castle not only served as the residence of the imperial family, but were also built for representation purposes and were the scene of countless celebrations and ceremonies that symbolized and strengthened the prestige of the monarchy. For this purpose, many well-known artists and renowned craftsmen were appointed, who furnished the rooms with the highest elegance of the time. The styles range from the Baroque to the Rococo, the Biedermeier and styles of the Wilhelminian era, which, however, on the whole form a harmonious ensemble.

The nursery
As a typical drawing room of the Neococcus and formerly attributed to the Elisabeth’s apartment, the nursery now provides the backdrop for the presentation of the famous portrait paintings of the daughters of Maria Theresa.

This museum presentation since the 1960s resulted in the consequence of the designation of the room as a nursery. The portrait on the easel shows Maria Theresa in widow’s costume. It was founded in 1717 as the daughter of Emperor Charles VI. Born and already fell in love with Backfischalter in Franz Stephan of Lorraine, whom she finally married in 1736. She gave birth to sixteen children, ten of whom reached adulthood, including eleven daughters and five sons. The numerous children allowed Maria Theresa, inter alia, a sophisticated marriage policy, the daughters were married with a single exception for political reasons. Only Marie Christine was allowed to marry the man of her heart, the Duke of Saxony-Teschen.

The nursery provides the insight into a bathroom, which was installed in 1917 for the last empress of Austria, Zita von Bourbon Parma.

The breakfast cabinet
The breakfast cabinet contains – framed in the white gold wood paneling – framed flower medallions, which were made to the diary entry of Count Zinzendorf on the occasion of a visit to Schönbrunn in 1761 by Elisabeth Christine, the mother of Maria Theresa.

The pictures, executed as appliqué embroidery, show flower bouquets in which insects frolic. This cabinet is one of several examples that demonstrate the personal involvement of the artistically gifted imperial family in the interior design of the castle.
According to tradition, the cabinet located at the southwest corner was also used as a breakfast room by Maria Josepha, the second wife of Joseph II.

Yellow salon
With the yellow salon begin the garden-side apartments of the castle. In the course of the history of Schönbrunn, the salon received different equipment and today it shows the Neo-Rococo of the second half of the 19th century. The furniture from the period around 1770 features both Rococo and Classicist elements in the style of Louis Seize.

Noteworthy here are also the pastel portraits, which show in a very realistic manner depictions of middle-class children.
They stand in stark contrast to the typical courtly portraits of the children of Maria Theresa, which
can be seen as a decoration in the Schönbrunn rooms.

The balcony room
The paintings in the balcony room were painted by the court painter Martin van Meytens and depict the children of Maria Theresa. Among them Maria Elisabeth, who was regarded as the most beautiful daughter of Maria Theresia and thus as a brilliant match. She was, however, a victim of the dreaded smallpox that she survived, but the disease had left ugly scars and destroyed her youthful beauty. Therefore, Maria Elisabeth could not be married befittingly. She remained unmarried, as did her unmarried sister Maria Anna until the death of Maria Theresa at the Viennese court and then moved to Innsbruck, where she resided as abbess of the ladies’ chapter. Maria Anna also spent her life as Abbess in Klagenfurt.

The Hall of Mirrors
With its magnificent white gold rococo decoration and the crystal mirrors that gave the room its name, the mirror room is a typical example of representative furnishings from the time of Maria Theresa.

The polished surfaces of the wood paneling and the mirrors embedded in it also had the task to reflect the candlelight, to visually expand the space through the reflections and thus to ensure the play of (sensory) delusions.

Here or in the adjoining Großer Rosa Zimmer, the first concert of the six-year-old Mozart in front of the Empress took place in October 1762 . After auditioning – according to the proud father – “Wolferl jumped on her lap to Her Majesty and got her by the neck and kissed her rightly.”

The pink room
The following three Rosa rooms are named after the artist Joseph Rosa, who created fifteen landscape paintings for the ensemble commissioned by Maria Theresa. The Rosa Rooms, created in the 1760s, form a unit of one large and two small rooms.

One of the paintings in the large pink room shows the idealized view of a ruin in the Swiss town of Aargau: the Habichtsburg – later Habsburg. It is the ancestral seat of the dynasty. The other paintings show idealized river and mountain landscapes with rural staffage and resting goats and flocks of sheep. In the large pink room in the gilded stucco decoration with its playful rocailles various musical instruments are inserted, which suggest that the room was also used as a music room .

The large pink room also houses the portrait of Emperor Franz I. Stephan . It shows the monarch standing in full figurine at a table, surrounded by various objects and collection objects, which refer to his artistic, historical and scientific interests.

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace (German: Schloss Schönbrunn) is a former imperial summer residence located in Vienna, Austria. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country. Since the mid-1950s it has been a major tourist attraction. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.

In 1569, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II purchased a large floodplain of the Wien river beneath a hill, situated between Meidling and Hietzing, where a former owner, in 1548, had erected a mansion called Katterburg. The emperor ordered the area to be fenced and put game there such as pheasants, ducks, deer and boar, in order for it to serve as the court’s recreational hunting ground. In a small separate part of the area, “exotic” birds such as turkeys and peafowl were kept. Fishponds were also built.

The name Schönbrunn (meaning “beautiful spring”), has its roots in an artesian well from which water was consumed by the court.

During the next century, the area was used as a hunting and recreation ground. Eleonora Gonzaga, who loved hunting, spent much time there and was bequeathed the area as her widow’s residence after the death of her husband, Ferdinand II. From 1638 to 1643, she added a palace to the Katterburg mansion, while in 1642 came the first mention of the name “Schönbrunn” on an invoice. The origins of the Schönbrunn orangery seem to go back to Eleonora Gonzaga as well. The Schönbrunn Palace in its present form was built and remodelled during the 1740–50s during the reign of empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding gift. Franz I commissioned the redecoration of the palace exterior in the neoclassical style as it appears today.

Franz Joseph, the longest-reigning emperor of Austria, was born at Schönbrunn and spent a great deal of his life there. He died there, at the age of 86, on 21 November 1916. Following the downfall of the Habsburg monarchy in November 1918, the palace became the property of the newly founded Austrian Republic and was preserved as a museum.

After World War II and during the Allied Occupation of Austria (1945—55), Schönbrunn Palace was requisitioned to provide offices for both the British Delegation to the Allied Commission for Austria, and for the headquarters for the small British Military Garrison present in Vienna. With the reestablishment of the Austrian republic in 1955, the palace once again became a museum. It is still sometimes used for important events such as the meeting between U.S. president John F. Kennedy and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1961.

Since 1992 the palace and gardens have been owned and administered by the Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur-und Betriebsges.m.b.H., a limited-liability company wholly owned by the Republic of Austria. The company conducts preservation and restoration of all palace properties without state subsidies. UNESCO catalogued Schönbrunn Palace on the World Heritage List in 1996, together with its gardens, as a remarkable Baroque ensemble and example of synthesis of the arts (Gesamtkunstwerk).