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Fitzwilliam Museum Presents Treasures of the Hapsburgs: Splendour & Power: Imperial Treasures from Vienna

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge will present a stunning collection of precious decorative arts never before seen in the UK – the treasures of the Hapsburg Emperors, in an exhibition on view 6 August 2011 to 8 January 2012.

This unique selection of beautifully crafted jewellery, vessels and other objects made from gems, precious metals and stones will be coming to the Fitzwilliam Museum from the renowned ‘Kunstkammer’ collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. This is the first time that audiences in Britain will be able to view these extraordinary objects, as the collection has never before been loaned on this scale.

Casket of gold filigree and diamonds Goa (India), middle of the 17th century (casket); late 17th or first third of the 18th century (diamond setting) © Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

The exhibition’s focus is upon artworks from the Late Renaissance and Mannerist period – the heyday of treasuries and ‘cabinets of curiosities’ – as well as from the 17th-century Baroque period. Many of the works on display belonged to Emperor Rudolph II – Holy Roman Emperor 1576 -1612 – and Empress Maria Theresa, the only female Hapsburg ruler and the last of the House.

With its roots in the medieval family treasure of the House of Hapsburg, the collection that is today contained within the Kunstkammer was once safeguarded in the Imperial Treasury in Vienna. These objects, almost all of which are unique creations, were designed to demonstrate the incredible wealth, power and glory of the Hapsburg dynasty, and only visitors of noble birth – such as princes of neighbouring countries or diplomatic delegations – were permitted to enter the treasure trove. Now, audiences to this landmark exhibition can follow in their footsteps and experience the opulence and grandeur of this glittering collection for themselves.

Dr Timothy Potts, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, said: “The Fitzwilliam is delighted to welcome this superb collection to Cambridge for its first and only UK showing. Widely regarded as the most important collection of its kind anywhere in the world, the Vienna Kunstkammer provides a fascinating insight into how European princely collections have evolved, from medieval troves of relics to the ‘cabinets of curiosities’ of the Renaissance and Early Baroque, eventually giving birth to the modern-day museum. “

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RB
Telephone: +44 (0)1223 332941/332900; FAX: +44 (0)1223 332923
Email: [email protected]

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