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Joachim von Sandrart, Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine with Saints Leopold and William. 1647/49, Maplewood. Inv.no. GG 1117 © KHM.

VIENNA.- To commemorate the 400th birthday of Archduke Leopold William (1614-1662), the founder of the Picture Gallery, the Kunsthistorisches Museum is showcasing a small panel dedicated to him by Joachim von Sandrart (Frankfurt/Main 1606 – 1688 Nuremberg), the celebrated German painter and writer on art. In many ways this is a highly sophisticated and exceptional present: unusually, the panel is painted both on the ob- and the reverse, combining two different genres – one depicts a religious scene, the other is a trompe l’œil still life. In a complex play on illusion and reality, Sandrart elevates the back of the painting to its subject matter, offering a virtuoso rendering of the actual support (a wooden panel) augmented by a painted joint and a (painted) piece of parchment – apparently attached with sealing wax – bearing the work’s dedication to the Archduke.

In the course of his life Sandrart worked in a number of cities located in countries ruled by the Habsburgs (among them Prague and Vienna, as well as at Lambach Monastery); Emperor Ferdinand III was such an admirer of his art that he ennobled him in 1653. Sandrart’s most important contribution to art history, however, is his Teutsche Academie der Edlen Bau-Bild- und Mahlerei-Künste (The German Academy of the Noble Arts of Architecture, Sculpture and Painting), published in Nuremberg in 1675.

In 2012 the Picture Gallery started a new series of exhibitions called „Points of View“; each focuses on an exceptional painting from our collection that is either rarely shown for lack of wall space, or one where recent research offers new insights.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Gudrun Swoboda.


Painted Reverse with the dedication addressed to Archduke Leopold William (To Leopold William, the esteemed Bishop of Strasbourg and His Serene Highness the Archduke of Austria etc., his most gracious master, this picture was painted and humbly dedicated by the aforementioned Serene Highness’ most humble and devoted servant Joachim Sandrart of Stockau), 1647/49, Maplewood. Inv.no. GG 1117 © KHM.