Research Unit

Art History


Our work mainly comprises research projects employing various, principally media-historical, methodologies in order to examine the issue of visual culture in the representation of the House of Habsburg, analysing strategies of symbolic communication and the visualisation of real power or claims to hegemony in artworks and buildings in various political spaces, primarily from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century. The complex relationship between the media and their addressees and the political messages they contain can be observed in all main social groups of actors (the ruling dynasty, the aristocracy, the Church, the bourgeoisie, fraternities). It is evident in urban spaces, in courtly and religious rituals, but also in targeted visual media campaigns by individual rulers.

The topics of these studies are thus broad: Habsburg residence culture (both architecture and painting), the instrumentalisation of certain saints in the context of pietas austriaca in public and sacred spaces, but also cartography as a medium of the iconisation of rule and the Viennese newspaper culture of the Early Modern period as a modern medium of communication between the dynasty and the public. Studies on Pietro Nobile, the important neo-Classical court architect, and the comprehensive documentation of Austrian medieval stained glass and an innovative perspective on its production in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries complement the broad thematic and temporal orientation of this research area.

Methodologically, the studies are dedicated to the preservation and documentation of source material and cultural contextualisation.  Our researchers thus consider the broad factual basis of the respective historical events in the context of their entanglement with the dynamic processes of their media rendering.

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