Beyer and his team of sculptors created thirty-two statues of equal height on tall plinths representing mythological or historical figures, the majority of which were designed and executed after models from antiquity.
The final siting of the statues was determined not by Beyer but by Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg as architect-in-chief responsible for the overall design of the gardens.
In 1945, under the supervision of the palace governor Josef Glaser, the statues were numbered from 1 to 32 on the side of the plinths to make the subjects easier to identify.
The sequence starts at the eastern hedge in front of the palace façade and ends on the Hietzing or western side.
Statues in the Great Parterre
More interesting statues
Statues in the boskets
Also the boskets were decorated with statues by Christian Willhelm Beyer and Johann Baptist Hagenauer.
Alexander and Olympias
At the centre of the bosket known as At the Statue of the Emperor is Beyer’s Alexander and Olympias. Shortly before he leaves to do battle against the Persians, Alexander, who in the eighteenth century was seen as the maginanimous conqueror and founder of the multinational state, is told by his mother Olympias that Jupiter is his father.
Rhea Kybele (by W. Beyer)
Opposite the Beautiful Well is Beyer’s Rhea Cybele, mistress of wooded mountains and wild animals that dwell in them, but also foundress of fortified cities, symbolised here by her mural crown. On the shorter side of the hedged enclosure around the Angel Fountain are statues of Eurydice and Cincinnatus, both executed by Beyer.
Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, the most famous singer in Greece and son of Apollo and the Muse Calliope. On the day of their wedding, Eurydice, fleeing from the unwanted advances of Aristheus, trod on a poisonous snake and died from its bite.
Eurydice is portrayed attempting to free her foot from the snake’s jaws while looking round anxiously towards her pursuer. Orpheus subsequently made a vain attempt to liberate her from the Underworld.
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was an aristocrat who was regarded as a model of Roman simplicity and civic virtue. Reduced to poverty through having stood surety for his son, he had retired to a small farm in the country. When Rome was in dire straits on account of war and natural disasters, the senate decided to elect a dictator, their choice falling on Cincinnatus. When messengers from the senate arrived to inform him of their decision, he was ploughing his fields. Cincinnatus is thus depicted as he leans against his plough and fastens the straps of his sandal to take up his duties as dictator of Rome.
Along the easternmost avenue are the statues executed by Hagenauer: to one side of the open space in front of the Obelisk Fountain an anonymous Roman Matron, and at the junction of the Linden Avenue the figural group portraying Hesperia and Arethusa, two of the Hesperides.
The female figure clad in a long dress in the ancient style displays no identifying attributes. Like the nymphs and priestesses, she probably belongs to the cult of a deity such as Cybele or Ceres.
Hesperia and Arethusa
The Hesperides were daughters of Hespera, the goddess of the West, and Atlas, the giant who bore the skies on his shoulders. According to legend, they lived at the western edge of the world, and the goddess Juno had entrusted them with a tree bearing golden apples, which only the gods were allowed to eat. Juno also placed a serpent called Ladon in their garden to guard the tree. He was overcome by Hercules, who brought three of the golden fruit to Earth.
From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century oranges were regarded as the apples of the Hesperides. The Hesperides in the park at Schönbrunn thus make it a ‘garden of the gods’.
Adorning the narrow end of the feature known as the Fan in the western boskets is a statue of the divine huntress Diana which corresponds with figure of the sun god Apollo, located at the centre of the curving hedged passage in the facing bosket known as ‘At the Archer’. The twins Apollo and Diana represent the elemental phenomena of sun and moon/day and night. Both statues were executed by Hagenauer after the famous classical figures of Apollo in the Vatican Museum in Rome and Diana at Versailles, today in the Louvre.
Diana (by J. B. Hagenauer)
The moon goddess Diana was venerated above all as the patroness of hunting and is thus mostly portrayed as a huntress accompanied by her hounds. Here she simply holds a short portion of her bow, like the figure of Apollo who faces her, as a reference to the classical statues that served as their models and which over the course of the centuries have suffered substantial losses to their original form.
Apollo (by J. B. Hagenauer)
Apollo is portrayed as a martial god loosing the arrows with which he slew the earth-dragon Python, here shown coiled around the tree trunk. In her jealousy, Juno had commanded the serpent to pursue the Titaness Leto, a lover of Jupiter and mother of Apollo and Diana. Apollo subsequently built the Oracle at Delphi, whose prophetess was called Pythia, over the cleft in the earth out of which the serpent had issued.