On Saturday, despite the heavy snow, I trudged through the streets of Vienna to visit the Academy of Fine Arts. The Academy was opened in 1688 as a private academy by Peter Strudel, the court painter to Emperor Leopold I. In 1877 a new building was constructed, where it remains today. In 1907 and again in 1908 a prospective art student applied to join this seat of artistic learning but failed on both occasions to pass the entrance exam. The student’s name was Adolf Hitler.
It has had university status since 1998, but has retained its original name. It is currently the only Austrian university that doesn’t have the word “university” in its name. It offers almost one thousand students a variety of courses which range from painting and sculpture to photography and video, performance and conceptual art, and also includes architecture, scenography and restoration.
The Picture Gallery of the Academy is Vienna’s oldest public art museum that, since 1877, has maintained its collection at the same location. The gallery, as a whole, represents the sum of countless acts of patronage. The major one being seven hundred and forty Old Masters from the painting collection of Count Lamberg, which was bequeathed upon his death in 1822.
After its renovation and restructuring, the Fine Arts’ Gallery of Paintings was reopened in September and is now accessible to the public again. It has a world ranking collection of European painting from the 14th to the 19th centuries.
Today’s work of art for My Daily Art Display can be found at the Academy and is a painting by Peter Paul Rubens circa 1615 entitled Boreas abducting Oreithyia, part of the Lamberg bequest. It is Rubens’s interpretation from an episode in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Boreas, the Tracian god and ruler of the north wind, carries off the daughter of Erechteus, King of Athens, who had been refused as a bride for him……
“…..Boreas shook out the wings which, as he beats through the air, causes great gusts of wind to blow over the earth and shrouded in darkness, engulfed the panic stricken Oreithyia in his dusky winds….”