Group leadership
Univ.-Doz. Dr. Werner Telesko

The projects of this research group primarily examine how Habsburg strategies of representation are expressed in the visual arts in the Austrian hereditary lands, the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, and Hungary.

On the basis of a number of hitherto sparsely researched visual, textual and musical sources, the project considers the autonomy of the media employed by different social groups and their entangled use on various representative occasions (festivals, court ceremony, entries etc.).

Methodologically, the study of the complex networks of decision-makers and programme organisers (concettists) entails analysis of the relationship between the sender and the recipient.  The latter mainly include various classes (the aristocracy, clergy, communes etc.) that served as the dynasty’s primary addressees.

“Habsburg representation” defined spaces in many different ways: the visual arts, architecture and panegyric literature had been used to underpin the plurimedia definition and ornamentation of ceremonial spaces since the Early Modern period. The strategies used will be examined in the context of the guiding question on the existence of different ceremonial spaces (urban, sacred and court spaces) for different audiences. This question is accompanied by further lines of inquiry investigating, for instance, whether a Habsburg “code of virtue” existed in the sense of a set of binding rules for all arts involved at the court. A further focal point for the research group is the figure of St. John of Nepomuk as one of the central personalities of “Pietas Austriaca”.

The shift from a dynasty to a state in the second half of the eighteenth century (under the reigns of Maria Theresa and Joseph II) also forms a substantial part of ongoing research: the difficult task here is to determine the extent to which what for a long time was primarily dynastic representation was replaced by “state representation” or more national representation.

In this respect, the focus on “Habsburg representation” is intended not only to provide a significant contribution to the study of new textual and visual sources, but also to shed new light on the complex mechanisms of self-representation employed by the Habsburgs as a dynasty that became of central importance to the history of Austria and Europe. An essential part of this work involves foregrounding actors of this representation who have hitherto received insufficient attention: