Description of the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene
Winter Palace of Prince Eugene was constructed in
1694 for Prince Eugene of Savoy, one of important key figures in the
Siege of Vienna of 1683 by the Turkish armies. Winter Palace
construction began under supervision of architect Johann Bernhard
Fischer von Erlach and later taken over by Johann Lukas von
Hildebrandt in 1702. This private residence was bought by Austrian
Empress Maria Theresa in 1752 for the state.
The historic rooms in the Beletage were the seat
of the Ministry of Finance from 1848 until the general renovation of
the city palace begun in 2007. In the course of this work, the state
rooms were restored true to the original and presented themselves in
Baroque opulence designed for Prince Eugen. In autumn 2013, the
ministry temporarily transferred the state rooms formerly used by
the state as a federal museum to the Austrian Gallery Belvedere,
which, starting with the prince's 350th birthday, used the palace as
a further location for his art collection and special exhibitions
and made it accessible to the public. The Ministry of Finance has
returned the premises for their own use at the end of October 2017
as requested. In 2018, the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene was be the
venue for the Brexit negotiations during Austria's EU Council
Winter Palace of Prince Eugene was the main
residence of the successful general. Here was kept the largest parts
of the famous collections of the master of the house, including the
exceptionally extensive library. The city palace served above all
also representative purposes. Prince Eugen exercised high-ranking
functions of the Habsburg monarchy, - among other things he was
1703-1736 President of the Hofkriegsrates and 1714-1724 formally
governor of the Austrian Netherlands. Therefore, he had to give
appropriate receptions and audiences.
In terms of urban
planning, the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene is a special feature,
as Prince Eugen chose not a befitting building site for his
residence - such as the Hofburg, which was even closer to
Herrengasse - but the narrow, less spectacular Himmelpfortgasse.
After his arrival in Vienna, the successful general did not have his
own apartment and lived in the home of the then Spanish Ambassador.
From autumn 2013 to October 2017, the state rooms of the building
under the name Winterpalais were part of the Austrian Gallery
The first property purchases were
documented in 1693 and 1694; Several older houses and an early
baroque theater hall were included in the area. In 1697, Johann
Bernhard Fischer von Erlach commissioned Prince Eugen to build a
seven-axis palace; its construction manager was Andrea Simone
Carove. The stonemason order was given to Johann Thomas Schilck,
with family contacts to both Eggenburg and Kaisersteinbruch. Planned
marriages had secured these two stone mason centers near Vienna on
business. So these two types of stone determine the palace.
The large portal with the side reliefs (left: Hercules fighting the
giant Antaeus; right: Aeneas saves his father from the burning Troy)
is made from Kaiserstein, sculptor was Lorenzo Mattielli. The
remarkable staircase, the steps from Kaiserstein, with the atlantic
figures, which serve as supports instead of columns, also comes from
this construction phase. In the center is a resting Hercules, above
whom the profile portrait of the prince forwards to the oil painting
by Louis Dorigny with the depiction of "Apollo in the sun carriage"
(1710/11). The sculptures made of Zogelsdorfer stone in the
staircase were created by Giovanni Giuliani. Deliveries from the
Kaisersteinbruch were made by Master Reichardt Fux. The most
important room still completed under the direction of Fischer von
Erlach is the so-called Red Salon, the former audience room. Here
the painters Marcantonio Chiarini (quadrature) and Andrea Lanzani
(figures), who were called to Vienna in 1697, painted the "Admission
of Hercules to Olympus".
In 1702 the construction was taken
over by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt. During this phase, some state
halls were created, especially the gold cabinet with an oil painting
by Solimena as the center. After Prince Eugen acquired the adjoining
house to the east, the facade was expanded in 1708 to twelve axes.
Stonemasonry was provided by the Kaisersteinbrucher masters Giovanni
Battista Passerini and Elias Hügel.
During the last
restoration, a sala terrena with grotesque paintings by Jonas
Drentwett was discovered next to the vestibule. This space, which
has been used for filing for decades, is not mentioned in the
sources. However, since the "Histoire" depicting "Histoire" in the
middle of the window wall also includes "Höchstätt" among the
battles fought by Prince Eugen, the frescoing can be dated to 1704.
Around 1710 the house chapel and a gallery, which are no longer
preserved, were installed. The central representation room, the
so-called Blue Salon with frescoes by Marcantonio Chiarini and Louis
Dorigny, also dates from this period. In 1719, through the
acquisition of the house to the west, the front was widened to
seventeen axes, which were used to install the library. Stone
carvings again provided Elias Hügel. Lorenzo Mattielli designed the
gate reliefs and the wall fountain in the courtyard.
Eugene died in 1736. His niece Anna Viktoria von Savoyen, who had
been the princess of Saxe-Hildburghausen since April 17, 1738,
became one of the richest persons in Europe as heir. (Her husband
Joseph Friedrich von Sachsen-Hildburghausen served the Habsburgs as
general and military administrator.) She auctioned Eugene's
property; the palace fell (like most of the other buildings of the
prince) to the imperial court and, after a renovation by Pacassi in
1752, was the seat of various state institutions, since 1848 the
Ministry of Finance.
As Hofärar, state property managed by
the imperial family, the palace fell in 1918 when Old Austria
collapsed to the republican German Austria that had been known as
the Republic of Austria since 12 November 1918. The ministry has
been known as the Federal Ministry of Finance since 1920.
grand staircase narrowly escaped destruction on April 8, 1945. This
Sunday, at 2 p.m., during the conquest of Vienna by the Red Army,
Soviet planes attacked the inner city. A bomb went through the roof
of the palace and exploded in the attic. The ceiling painting by the
French painter Louis Dorigny was damaged, but could be restored by
experts from the Academy of Fine Arts.
From 2007 to 2013, the
city palace was completely renovated on behalf of the Federal
Ministry of Finance. In autumn / winter 2019/2020, the coalition
negotiations between the ÖVP and the Greens to form a new federal
government took place here, often reported on television.