The Imperial Palace at Schönbrunn, Garden Side (1759-60)
Designed and constructed (but not completed) by the Baroque master builder Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (1656-1723), the pleasure palace of Schönbrunn in Vienna served as a summer residence for the Habsburg emperors. Originally meant to eclipse Versailles, the grand palace of Austrian rival Louis XIV of France, Schönbrunn is a stunning example of the Baroque splendor pursued by monarchs in the age of absolutism. The portions of the palace completed between 1696 and 1700 were scaled-back versions of a grander design that von Erlach was unable to realize, most likely for financial reasons. In 1743, Empress Maria Theresa commissioned architect Nikolaus Pacassi (1716-90) to redesign the palace. The resulting structure, most of the important parts of which were completed during Maria Theresa’s reign, is a masterwork of the Austrian Rococo. Oil on canvas by Bernardo Bellotto (1720-80), 1759-60.