From the museum website, 12 December 2008
The collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna reflect the imperial tastes and interests of the House of Habsburg from the reign of Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This exhibition is divided into six thematic sections corresponding to the quintessential genres of art history—portraits; history, religion, and mythology; nudes; popular customs; still lifes; and architecture and landscapes.
In 1891 the Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830- 1916) inaugurated the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The building was born of the need to create a space to hold the imperial collections that the House of Habsburg had accumulated since the days of Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) and that would continue to grow until the fall of the Austro Hungarian Empire. These collections, a reflection of the tastes of the Habsburg emperors, their family relations, and five centuries of European diplomacy and politics, boast masterpieces of European painting and sculpture as well as scientific and decorative objects, tapestries, coins, armor, and works from antiquity that delighted those monarchs.
All the histories of art: the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna is divided into six sections corresponding to the quintessential genres of art history. An extensive selection of masterpieces featuring portraits; history, religion, and mythology; nudes; popular customs; still lifes; and architecture and landscapes offers an innovative overview of the collections housed in this important museum.
The section featuring portraits — one of the best-represented genres in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna collections — contains pieces from a variety of disciplines including coins and objects, which range chronologically from ancient Egypt and classical antiquity to neoclassicism, with works by artists such as Holbein, Titian, Tintoretto, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Velázquez.
The second section, dedicated to historical paintings, contains countless historical, mythological, and religious motifs depicted in paintings by Cranach, Dürer, Gentileschi, Rubens, and Titian, as well as sculptures sharing the same theme.
The selection of nudes includes works by Palma il Vecchio, Titian, Veronese, and Spranger, is the perfect genre for linking the preceding section with the popular scenes idealizing local customs depicted in the works of Magnasco, Strozzi, and David Teniers the Younger in the fourth section.
Still lifes, the fifth area, are represented by both paintings and objects from the Kunstkammer, the seed of the collections of some of these emperors, and by paintings by Arcimboldo, Brueghel the Elder, and De Heem.
In the gallery dedicated to rural, sea, and city landscapes we can see how this genre has evolved from the early 16th century to the second half of the 18th century through the work of prominent artists such as Patinier, Bril, Gainsborough, and Belloto. This encompassing exhibit offers a truly unique opportunity to explore All the histories of art.