Schönbrunn Palace Garden
Measures: 110 x 110 cm
Technique: Oil on canvas
Depository: Privately owned
Klimt painted the “Schönbrunner Schlosspark” in his studio by using ether a contemporary photo or a post card of the Schlossgarten.
In the year 1569, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor|Maximilian II purchased a large floodplain of the Wien River|Wien river beneath a hill, situated between Meidling and Hietzing, where a former owner, in 1548, had erected a mansion called Katterburg. The emperor ordered the area to be fenced and put game there such as pheasants, ducks, deer and boar, in order to serve as the court's recreational hunting ground. In a small separate part of the area, "exotic" birds like turkeys and peafowl were kept. Fishponds were built, too. The name Schönbrunn (meaning "beautiful spring"), has its roots in an artesian well from which water was consumed by the court. During the next century, the area was used as a hunting and recreation ground. Especially Eleonore Gonzaga (1598-1655)|Eleonora Gonzaga, who loved hunting, spent much time there and was bequeathed the area as her widow's residence after the death of her husband, Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor|Ferdinand II. From 1638 to 1643, she added a palace to the Katterburg mansion, while in 1642 came the first mention of the name "Schönbrunn" on an invoice. The origins of the Schönbrunn orangery seem to go back to Eleonora Gonzaga as well.
, and thereby ordered to recycle "otherwise useless stone" which was left from the almost-demolition of Schloss Neugebäude. The same material was also to be used for the Roman ruin. The Gloriette today houses a café and gives the visitor a view of the city.
Originally known as the Ruin of Carthage, the Roman Ruin is a set of follies that was designed by the architect Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg and erected as an entirely new architectural feature in 1778. Fully integrated into its parkland surroundings, this architectural ensemble should be understood as a picturesque horticultural feature and not simply as a ruin, which due to lack of maintenance it had increasingly grown to resemble prior to its recent restoration. The fashion for picturesque ruins that became widespread with the rise of the Romantic movement soon after the middle of the 18th century symbolize both the decline of once great powers and the preservation of the remains of a heroic past. Erected at the same time not far from the Roman Ruin, the Obelisk Fountain was intended to complete the iconographic program of the park at Schönbrunn as a symbol of stability and permanence. The Roman Ruin consists of a rectangular pool enclosed by a massive arch with lateral walls, evoking the impression of an ancient edifice slowly crumbling into the ground. In the pool in front of the ruin is a seemingly haphazard arrangement of stone fragments supporting a figural group which symbolizes the rivers Danube and Enns.
Following the downfall of the monarchy in 1918 the newly founded Austrian Republic became the owner of Schönbrunn Palace and preserved, as a museum, the rooms and chambers. After World War II and during the Austrian State Treaty|Allied Occupation of Austria (1945–1955) Schönbrunn Palace, which was empty at the time, was requisitioned to provide offices for both the British Delegation to the Allied_Commission#Austria|Allied Commission for Austria and for the Headquarters for the small British Military Garrison present in Vienna. Later it was used for important events such as the meeting between John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev in 1961. UNESCO catalogued Schönbrunn Palace on the World Heritage List in 1996, together with its gardens, as a remarkable Baroque ensemble and example of synthesis of the arts (Gesamtkunstwerk).