What do most of us get for our 300th birthday? Not a lot. But that’s because we never left a colourful legacy in oil and canvas. Unlike Josef Ignaz Mildorfer (1719-1775), the subject of a new exhibition at Upper Belvedere.
- Explores Mildorfer’s work as “war artist”, baroque academic influencer, and painter for hire
- Just needs a normal entrance ticket for Upper Belvedere
- Runs Sep 19, 2019 – Jan 6, 2020
- All display text shown in English, too
- See also: Belvedere times and tickets info
“The baroque rebel”
This first solo Mildorfer exhibition honours the 300th anniversary of his 1719 birth in Innsbruck. (Hopefully he’s sitting in some celestial studio giving himself a pat on the back).
Curated by Maike Hohn and in cooperation with the Wiener Zeitung, the exhibition devotes a room each to three particular aspects of his life and output, with works drawn from throughout central and eastern Europe…
1. Mildorfer as battle artist
The beginning of Mildorfer’s career as an artist coincided with the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748), which came about when Maria Theresa began her reign.
Various powers used the absence of a Y chromosome in the new monarch’s genes as an excuse to try and take chunks out of the Habsburg territories. It was a little more complex than that, but the subsequent battles gave Mildorfer suitable themes to work on. Examples include his 1742 paintings, the Battle of Schärding and The Munich Surrender.
2. Mildorfer as student and academic
Mildorfer eventually rose to become a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts (which still exists today) during the 1750s.
His influence on the development of the Viennese academy style is, perhaps, his greatest legacy; the likes of Franz Anton Maulbertsch or Johann Bergl (whose wall frescoes can still be seen in Schönbrunn’s Children’s Museum) sat in his classes.
In this room you can see, for example, Mildorfer’s 1742 Cain and Abel, which won the gold medal at an academy painting competition and gave a generous boost to his career. Incidentally, Maulbertsch’s 1750 gold-winning painting, The Academy with its Attributes at Minervas Feet, hangs next to it.
3. Mildorfer as painter for hire
Even if the work dried up towards the end of his life, Mildorfer won commissions from numerous sources, including the imperial family.
For example, his frescoes still grace the ceiling in the Kaiserpavilion at the centre of Schönbrunn zoo in the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace. You can see his preliminary sketches for those frescoes and also for the ceiling frescoes in the crypt where Empress Maria Theresa is buried.
Dates and tickets
The Mildorfer exhibition began on Thursday, September 19th, 2019 and finishes on Monday, January 6th, 2020.
To see the exhibition, you need a normal entrance ticket for Upper Belvedere (or a sightseeing pass). The same palace also has an excellent permanent exhibition covering various eras in Austrian and European painting. You might just have heard of one of the works: Klimt’s The Kiss.
How to get to the Mildorfer exhibition
Just follow these directions for Upper Belvedere.
Address: Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Vienna