The Albertina in Vienna numbers among the most important collections worldwide. Since 1805 it has been housed in one of the most magnificent Neo-Classicist palaces in Europe. Its name goes back to Duke Albert of Saxony-Teschen, the collection’s founder and son-in-law of Maria Theresa. Between 1802 and 1804, Duke Albert had the former Baroque town palace of Count Sylva-Tarouca extended by an impressive wing accommodating the staterooms, built by the Belgian architect Louis de Montoyer. Its exquisite furnishings in the style of Louis Seize were made in the royal workshops of the French court in Paris and Versailles. In 1822, Archduke Charles, Duke Albert’s adoptive son and heir, initiated the redesign of the Habsburg staterooms in the style of the French Empire, commissioning Joseph Danhauser to furnish the palace with precious furniture and elaborate parquet flooring. The stately historical appearance of the palace’s façades, added in 1867, is owed to Archduke Albrecht, Charles’ eldest son. Between 1895 and 1897 – the final phase of the palace’s refurbishment –Archduke Frederick, Albrecht’s nephew and adoptive son, commissioned the so-called Spanish Apartments, the only permanent residence of the Spanish royal family outside their native country.
The Hall of the Muses, the heart of the Habsburg staterooms, was used as a dining room and provided a festive setting for glamorous soirées and magnificent balls. It was illuminated by five superb crystal chandeliers, and an additional 258 candles attached to the rosette frieze running around the room bathed it in a sea of light. Precious stucco marble wall paneling and pillars, as well as gilded doors and ornaments, contribute to its impressive atmosphere. The hall’s name is derived from the cycle of figures Apollo and the Nine Muses. The larger-than-life sandstone figures, whose polished white surface is meant to simulate marble, were likewise designed by Joseph Klieber, who was inspired by the sculptor Antonio Canova when he conceived this work.