(Image © Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur-und Betriebsges.m.b.H)

Major Austrian exhibition marks Emperor Franz Joseph death centenary

Posted on centenarynews.com on 07 April 2016
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Emperor Franz Joseph's extraordinary long reign is being re-examined with a combined series of Austrian exhibitions in 2016 marking the centenary of his death.

Events focussed on Schönbrunn Palace and three other sites in and around Vienna explore the contrasting public and private faces of the Habsburg monarch whose rule culminated in the First World War.

"As strongly as Franz Joseph was seen to be the mainstay of the monarchy, so greatly did he hasten its demise with his decisions," the exhibition organisers note.

"His death a hundred years ago in the turmoil of the First World War is an opportune occasion for a critical analysis of this historical and historic personality."

Exhibition themes & venues

*Man and Monarch at Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna - birthplace of Franz Joseph and here, too, where he died on November 21st 1916. By then the weakened Austro-Hungarian Empire had become increasingly subordinate to its German ally in the conduct of the war.  

Displays document the key dynastic and political events of Franz Joseph's 68-year reign.

*Majesty and Modesty, at the Wagenburg, the Imperial carriage museum in the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace, considers the magnificence that had to be displayed on state occasions by a monarch whose private life was 'spartan and unpretentious.'

*Feasting and Everyday at the Hofmobiliendepot (Imperial Furniture Collection). Early film footage and sound recordings are included in this exhibition.

'Even though he always regarded modern technology with great scepticism, it was the breakneck speed of technical progress that made Franz Joseph the first emperor to be captured in image and sound," organisers explain.

*Hunting & Leisure at Schloß Niederweiden (east of Vienna), reflecting Franz Joseph's passions for hunting and horse-riding. 

'New perspectives'

Emperor Franz Joseph was at his Alpine summer residence of Bad Ischl when he signed the declaration of war on Serbia on July 28th 1914, escalating a diplomatic crisis into full-blown conflict between Europe's great powers.

Exactly a month earlier, his heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated by the Bosnian Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, during a visit to Sarajevo.

The annexation of Bosnia by the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1908 is just one of the many acts of Franz Joseph's long reign explored by the Schönbrunn centenary exhibition.

Franz Joseph's death in 1916 was followed two years later by the collapse of the empire, and the end of centuries of Habsburg rule in central and eastern Europe.

Historian and curator Karl Vocelka says: "The exhibition communicates a balanced picture of Franz Joseph, whose public image was, and in many ways still is, shaped by myths and clichés.

"A critical approach to his person, politics and personal relationships and circumstances opens up new perspectives."

'Franz Joseph 1830-1916: Centenary of the Emperor’s Death' runs until November 27th 2016 at four sites - Schönbrunn Palace, Kaiserliche Wagenburg, Hofmobiliendepot (all in Vienna) and Schloß Niedeweiden (east of Vienna). Full information can be found on the franzjoseph2016 website. 

Information & images supplied by Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur-und Betriebsges.m.b.H 

Posted by: CN Editorial Team