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Small Gallery

Grand & Imperial Tour

Lying on the central axis of the palace, the Small Gallery together with the two smaller rooms on either side served as a setting for courtly entertainments.

The uniform interiors of the central ceremonial halls are a perfect example of the classic development of the Rococo style under Maria Theresa.

The small Gallery

The combination of lustrous white surfaces and opulent gilding is today still associated in the public mind with the reign of Maria Theresa. This decorative scheme evolved from around the mid-1750s and reached its pinnacle in the ceremonial halls of Schönbrunn Palace.

The wall panels in polished white technique evoke the impression of a smooth marble surface. These surfaces were reconstructed as part of the restoration undertaken in 1999/2000. The base is formed of several layers of gesso coating that has to be sanded back until it is completely smooth. Afterwards a white pigment (zinc white) is applied which is then polished by hand with agate until a high sheen is achieved – a process that requires a great degree of skill and patience.

A notable element in the décor of the Small Gallery that was created at the same time as the remodelling of the Great Gallery around 1760 is the ceiling fresco by Gregorio Guglielmi. The subject of the fresco takes up the programme of the ceiling paintings in the Great Gallery with a visual representation of the Habsburg claim to rulership. Aeternitas (Eternity) offers the crown to the House of Austria. The Roman origins of the idea of empire are alluded to, as are the Middle Ages, as attestations of ancient venerability. History culminates in the ruling couple, who secure the continuation of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. The allegories of Justitia (Justice) and Clementia (Clemency) allude to Maria Theresa’s motto: ‘By means of justice and clemency’.

The two busts on the shorter sides of the room represent the two daughters of Maria Theresa who became queens through marriage: on the right is Maria Karoline, queen of Naples and Sicily, and on the left Marie Antoinette, queen of France.

Great Gallery
Round Chinese Cabinet
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