Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
History, Paintings, Collection Highlights, Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Detail of Massacre of the Innocents
(1564) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
Part of the great collection of
Bruegel's works held at the museum.

Louvre Paris
Musee Conde, Chantilly
Musee d'Orsay Paris
Antwerp Museum of Fine Arts
Pompidou Centre
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Pitti Palace, Florence
Vatican Museums
Sistine Chapel Frescoes
Doria Pamphilj Gallery
Capodimonte Museum, Naples
Prado Madrid
Reina Sofia, Madrid
Kunstmuseum Basel
British Museum
British Royal Art Collection
Tate Collection, London

Kunsthistorisches Museum


Art Collections
Pieter Bruegel Collection


The Kunsthistorisches Museum ("Museum of Art History"), opened in 1891, is the leading fine arts museum in Austria and one of the best art museums in Europe. It is housed in a monumental building on Ringstrasse, Vienna, which was built by Emperor Franz Joseph I as part of his development of the Austro-Hungarian capital in 1858. In fact two Ringstrasse museums were constructed in the period 1872-1891 - the Kunsthistorisches and the Naturhistorisches Museums - both Renaissance style structures designed by the architects Gottfried Semper (1803-1879) and Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer (1833-1894). The museums now face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. The establishment of this monumental fine arts centre in Vienna made it possible to consolidate the various Habsburg collections in one location and open it to the general public. Outlying parts of the Kunsthistorisches Museum include: The Ambras Castle in Innsbruck; the Museum of Ethnology in the Neue Burg and the Austrian Theatre Museum in Palais Lobkowitz. Several other collections are housed in the Hofburg (Ancient Musical Instruments, Arms and Armour) and in Schonbrunn Palace (Carriages and Court Uniforms).

Allegory on the Art of Painting.
(The Artist's Studio) (1665), among
the greatest genre paintings by
Jan Vermeer. It is one of several
Dutch masterpieces in Vienna.

National Gallery London
Victoria and Albert Museum
Courtauld Gallery
Hermitage, St Petersburg
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Pinakothek, Munich
Gemaldegalerie SMPK, Berlin
Strasbourg Museum of Fine Arts
Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden

Art Collections

The core of the Kunsthistorisches Museum's permanent collection are the 16th century portrait and armour collections of Archduke Ferdinand of Tirol; the painting and sculpture collection of Emperor Rudolph II, and the 17th century collection of Baroque painting accumulated by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. The permanent collection is divided into eight departments, featuring many different types of art, including: Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection; Greek and Roman Antiquities; and Medieval Art; as well as Painting; Decorative Arts and Sculpture; Armour; Coin Cabinet; and The Library.

For details of any important art
shows being staged at the
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna,
see: Art News Headlines.

See: Art Museums in Europe

The Paintings Collection

The Kunsthistorisches Museum's picture collection owes the greatest debt to three Habsburg art collectors - Archduke Ferdinand II (1529–1595), Emperor Rudolf II (1552–1612) and Archduke Leopold Wilhelm (1614–1662), who between them shaped the character of the collection. The various holdings were first collected together in Vienna's Stallburg, before being relocated in 1781 to the Belvedere Palace. In 1891 the Belvedere's holding was finally moved into the Kunsthistorisches Museum.




The Kunsthistorisches Museum's collection of paintings is one of the most important and extensive in the world. Its nucleus consists of 15th century Netherlandish Renaissance paintings (by Jan van Eyck, Roger van der Weyden); German Renaissance paintings (by Albrecht Durer, Lucas Cranach the Elder), including 16th century portraits by Bartholomaus Bruyn of the Cologne School; 16th-century Italian Renaissance art (by Titian, Paolo Veronese, and Tintoretto); 17th-century Flemish Baroque paintings (by Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck), and works by Dutch Realist artists (Vermeer, Rembrandt).

Other Old Masters whose works appear in the Painting Gallery include: Hieronymus Bosch, Hugo van der Goes, Joachim Patinier, Hans Memling, Raphael, Annibale Carracci, Parmigianino, Jacopo Bassano, Caravaggio, Velazquez, Jacob Jordaens, David Teniers the Younger, Frans Snyders, Jan Vermeer, Rembrandt, Gerard Terborch, Jacob van Ruisdael, Jan Steen, Samuel van Hoogstraten, Pietro Berettini da Cortona, Giambattista Tiepolo, Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto, and many others.

Individual Masterpieces

Among the finest works of art in the museum's permanent collection, are the folowing:

- Cardinal Niccolo Albergati (1438) by Jan van Eyck.
- San Cassiano Altarpiece (c.1475) by Antonello da Messina.
- Madonna of the Meadow (1506) by Raphael.
- Adoration of the Trinity (1511) by Albrecht Durer.
- Jupiter and Io (1530) by Correggio.
- Summer (1563) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
- Madonna of the Rosary (c.1606) by Caravaggio.
- The Fur Cloak (Helene Fourment) (c.1636-39) by Rubens.
- Self Portrait (1652) by Rembrandt.
- The Art of Painting: An Allegory (c.1666) by Jan Vermeer.


The Pieter Bruegel Collection

The Kunsthistorisches Museum also owns the world's greatest holding of panel paintings by the Pieter Bruegel the Elder - the greatest Netherlandish artist of the 16th century - including:

- The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559)
- Children's Games (1560)
- The Suicide of Saul (1562)
- Tower of Babel (1563)
- Procession to Calvary (1564)
- Massacre of the Innocents (1564)
- Hunters in the Snow (January) (1565)
- The Gloomy Day (February) (1565)
- The Return of the Herd (October) (1565)
- The Conversion of Saul (1567)
- Peasant Wedding (c.1568)
- Peasant Dance (c.1568)
- The Peasant and the Bird-Nester (1568)
- The Storm at Sea (1569)

The Habsburg Heritage

The treasures held by the Kunsthistorisches Museum span almost the entire range of fine art, including rare illuminated manuscripts, and decorative art, all of which attracted the patronage of the House of Habsburg, which ruled the huge Austro-Hungarian Empire for centuries. The museum therefore serves as a unique repository of central, eastern and southern European culture, and is in no small measure a major part of the Habsburg heritage.

• For more information about the world's finest art museums, see: Homepage.

© visual-arts-cork.com. All rights reserved.