Prince Eugene of Savoy

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 31, 2010

From The Art Newspaper:

Agnes Husslein-Arco, ed., Prince Eugene: General-Philosopher and Art Lover (Munich: Hirmer Verlag), ISBN 9783777425511, $75.

Reviewed by Theodore K. Rabb, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University; posted 29 June 2010

. . . Ruling a multitude of languages and peoples, the Habsburgs were unique among Europe’s monarchs in their enthusiasm for foreign aristocrats at their court and as commanders of their armies. None repaid that welcome as handsomely as Eugene. In a few decades, he not only launched a once shrinking dynasty into an expansive era of conquest, but he helped make Vienna into one of the most dazzling capitals and cultural centres in Europe.

This catalogue records an exhibition (until 6 June) that pays tribute to the prince’s many achievements. It is held in the lower half of the Belvedere in Vienna, a two-part palace that is a contender for the title of the most imposing townhouse ever built, and which Eugene spent over a decade completing during the 1710s and 1720s. Although more than 300 objects are on display, ranging from sculptures to manuscripts, weapons to portraits, they barely scratched the surface of his possessions. His library alone, now owned by the national library, contained some 15,000 volumes. He had two Van Dycks, seven Guido Renis, and hundreds of Dutch and Italian paintings. At the heart of the Albertina’s collection of prints, the largest in the world, are the 255 volumes of engravings by masters such as Dürer that ultimately came from Eugene. . . .

For the full review, click here»

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The exhibition as described at EuroMuse (sorry that this one slipped by me until just recently). . .

Prinz Eugen: Feldherr, Philosoph, und Kunstfreund / General, Philosopher, and Art Lover
Lower Belvedere, Vienna, 11 February — 6 June 2010

Of Italian descent and a native French, Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), following his meteoric rise and splendid career as a military leader, became one of the most influential Austrians who had a long-lasting impact on the country’s fate and its art and cultural history. As a diplomat and counsel to the emperors Leopold I, Joseph I, and Charles VI, he travelled across Europe from one theatre of war to the next, playing a decisive role in determining the future of the House of Habsburg.

In 2010, the Vienna Belvedere, with its two palaces and Baroque gardens built by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt in the early eighteenth century as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy, will be the venue of an exhibition presenting the prince as a general, statesman, and patron of the arts and sciences. Throughout his lifetime, he devoted himself to the compilation of a comprehensive collection of paintings, copper engravings, incunabula, illuminated manuscripts, and books, which he displayed in his Viennese palaces. From ever changing war sites, Prince Eugene corresponded with artists and artisans, landscape designers and architects, as well as the most influential thinkers of his time.

His acquisitions went down in the annals of European art and cultural history and facilitated the transfer of works of art from the court of the French king Louis XIV to Vienna. His interest in the natural sciences – in matters of which he relied on the expertise of the philosopher and scientist Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – is reflected in a large collection of exotic animals and plants.

The exhibition will showcase exhibits from Prince Eugene’s art collections – predominantly paintings from the Galleria Sabauda in Turin and cimelia from the Bibliotheca Eugeniana – in an ambience simulating period interiors, thus conveying to the visitors the complex decoration of those buildings where Prince Eugene, as president of the Imperial War Council and member of the Privy Council, received such illustrious guests as the ambassador of the Ottoman Empire.

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Additional information on the exhibition is available at The Luxury Traveler.

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