I’m not a natural born furniture enthusiast, but still found a few items in the Hofmobiliendepot (Imperial Furniture Collection) that caused my eyebrows to lift in admiration.
Here are my favorites:
1. A set of scales used by Empress Elisabeth
She was known for obsessing over her looks and weight, and the worn-down footplate seems a tragic reminder of the eternal (and unwinnable) battle against fat.
You also see one of the fans she used to hide behind to avoid the glare of public curiosity. Impressive how much you can learn about a person from a few simply household objects.
2. Franz I/II’s throne with its sphinxes and lion paw feet
It’s not the throne itself that impressed me, but the fact you can see the very same item (and its regal occupant) in an adjoining 1815 painting by Johann Peter Krafft. That is, frankly, very cool.
3. The astonishing cabinets in the Laxenburg room
Particularly one from the late 17th century made of ebony with patterned bird inlays. I’m guessing they did not use the cabinets to store screws and nails.
4. You can sit on some original Biedermeier chairs, stools and sofas
Apart from the rather delightful idea of having your bottom pressing against genuine history, they make a comfortable spot to take a break from the rigors of meandering round a museum.
5. The antique chamber pots
These look suspiciously like normal kitchen pots (but it would be wise not to confuse the two).
6. The walk-through depot on the third floor
The side opposite the pristine displays of various rooms furnished in the Biedermeier fashion features a depot of objects held in the collection. It’s fascinating – original imperial items stacked like the back of a market trader’s van. All that power and splendor reduced to a museum footnote – on a dark, windy night I might suggest it represents the futility of human existence. But let’s just say it reminds us there’s more to life than rank and wealth.