CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria. A Renaissance Ruler and Art Patron between Prague and Innsbruck (1529–1595)

Exhibition: 3 November 2017 - 25 February 2018

The exhibition takes place in the Waldstein Riding School of the National Gallery in Prague.

In 2017, 470 years have elapsed since the arrival of Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria (1529–1595), the son of Ferdinand I, King of Bohemia and Hungary, in Bohemia to represent his father’s interests as well as the entire Habsburg dynasty. The same year also marks the 450th anniversary of the archduke’s assumption of rule over Tyrol. Significant jubilees launched a large exhibition Ferdinand II. 450 Jahre Tiroler Landesfürst in Ambras Castle in Innsbruck and a subsequent one in the National Gallery in Prague. The two exhibitions are jointly organised by National Gallery in Prague, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien and Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

The second-born son of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I spent his childhood in the company of his older brother Maximilian II, a successor to the throne. Beginning in 1547, Archduke Ferdinand II stayed in the Czech lands, holding the office of the governor and playing an important role in political, social and cultural life. One of the important tasks was the reconstruction of the royal residence – Prague Castle. As a patron he surrounded himself with European artists, many of them from the Netherlands, and was instrumental in promoting the Renaissance in Central Europe. He also holds a significant place in history as an avid collector. He built one of the largest libraries of the time in Central Europe, a vast and imposing Kunstkammer and an outstanding collection of armour belonging to famous men.

Ferdinand I bequeathed the rule of Tyrol to the archduke who relocated there in 1567. Ambras Castle near Innsbruck was his new home; he turned it into a sumptuous Renaissance residence. For his world-famous art collections Ferdinand II commissioned a separate museum building, preserved at its original site to this very day. Ambras is therefore the oldest museum in the world. The archduke’s example inspired also his nephew, the future Emperor Rudolf II, whose interests were similar.

The Prague exhibition displays more than three hundred exhibits of various kinds, from paintings, precious arts and crafts objects, Renaissance armour, and valuable documents to products of nature and curiosities from his collections as well as everyday objects of the archduke and his family.

International Conference

On the occasion of the exhibition, an international conference on the cultural patronage of Archduke Ferdinand will take place on 21– 23 February 2018 at the Institute of Art History in cooperation with the National Gallery in Prague.

The preliminary program is available for download (in PDF).

Jakob Seisenegger (1505−1567), <em>Archduke Ferdinand II as the Governor of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown</em>, 1548 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Jakob Seisenegger (1505−1567), Archduke Ferdinand II as the Governor of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, 1548
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna