The Mythology of the Habsburgs Part I

March 12 2009, 3:01pm

The Mythology of the Habsburgs, Part I Fine and decorative art, as we know, is littered with symbolism intended to lend clues about a piece’s history and subject matter. We have recently acquired a fantastic group of three paintings that represent a chapter in the history of the Habsburg dynasty. One large and two smaller in size, the works are most mysterious both in construction and in theme. To begin, each of the three paintings are comprised of a framed canvas; however, they also incorporate hinged polychrome panels of carved relief, which, unlike traditional diptychs or triptychs, are directly integrated into the scenes. These panels open to reveal vivid lacca povera on their undersides, and blank areas on the canvas they conceal. The paintings have been re-lined and it is probable that the pictures were once mounted to the wall, the panels concealing hidden niches where the blank areas are now situated. Regarding subject matter, the paintings combine historic, heraldic, and mythological references that have become the source of much interest and hypothesizing among our staff, as well as academics specializing in the history of the Habsburgs. While the central painted portions appear to represent historic figures, the flanking painted areas and carved panels are reserved for mythological elements. All three pictures are rife with allusions to Roman mythology and Virgil’s Aeneid; Maximilian I Holy Roman Emperor (1459-1519) and his grandson, Charles V Holy Roman Emperor (1500-1558), began the precedent of tracing their genealogy to Troy, proclaiming a descendance from Aeneas and in her book “The Last Descendant of Aeneas,” Marie Tanner explores this mythic imagery built around the Habsburg dynasty from the Renaissance. A variety of crowns, flags, and coats of arms are represented including those of Austria, the Holy Roman Empire, Bohemia, Hungary, Lorraine, and Moravia. The Habsburg paintings, loaded with intrigue, are a great example of how small symbolic elements underline the intended messages of a work of art and, in future posts, we will explore more deeply the men and the myths incorporated into these fabulous compositions. Carlton Hobbs Weblog Tags: art, carlton-hobbs, habsburgs, mythology, paintings Tags: art,carlton-hobbs,habsburgs,mythology,paintings IceRocket Tags: art,carlton-hobbs,habsburgs,mythology,paintings Flickr Tags: art,carlton-hobbs,habsburgs,mythology,paintings Technorati Tags: art,carlton-hobbs,habsburgs,mythology,paintings You can now find us on FaceBook and Twitter to go with our NewsFeed, see you soon.