Find out more about our current special exhibition
Fearless to Rio
28 June to 19 November 2022
Archduchess Maria Leopoldine of Austria was born in the Hofburg on a Sunday in the year 1797. In her honour, on a rainy summer night in 1817, the Marquis of Marialva as Portuguese special ambassador gave a splendid ‘Brazilian ball’ at the Augarten. Only shortly before, Leopoldina had been married by proxy to the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, Dom Pedro. She was soon to embark upon the perilous voyage to Rio de Janeiro, bearing with her a miniature portrait of the Prince Royal set with Brazilian diamonds and dreaming of a world rich in natural wonders.
On 2 September 1822, the 25-year-old Leopoldina summoned the State Council in Rio and together with her ministers made the decision for Brazil to declare its independence from Portugal. Subsequently she became the first Empress of the new Nation. Though now largely forgotten in her original homeland of Austria, in Brazil she is still celebrated as a national heroine. In Leopoldina’s day, the post was slow and infrequent and she received less and less news from her family.
Who was Leopoldina? To mark the bicentenary of Brazilian independence, the Augarten Porcelain Museum has set out on her tracks. Her family was beset with political dilemmas but had a high level of interest in the natural sciences. Leopoldina received a good education and admired the music of Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert. Her mother and two stepmothers were sources of strength and support. Leopoldina grew up with ancient traditions but also saw radical change, experiencing Napoleon, Metternich, Goethe and finally the Congress of Vienna.
The Augarten Porcelain Museum is inseparably associated with Leopoldina because it stands at the very location of the sparkling festivity of 1 June 1817. This iconic moment – historically real but rich in the dimension of personal imagination – is interpreted for the exhibition in an installation created by the Brazilian artist Georgia Creimer.
What role did porcelain play in this story? The Vienna manufactory produced highly artistic portraits of the imperial family as private and diplomatic gifts. Leopoldina’s father Emperor Franz ordered plates with botanical motifs taken from the discoveries of the Brazil expedition. The imperial passions for collecting conches and minerals are likewise reflected on porcelain, as are the relevant locations in the imperial capital.
1. Two Vienna cups with the portraits of Leopoldina´s beloved "second and third Mamas", her stepmothers Empress Maria Ludovica Beatrix and Empress Caroline Auguste, Marton Collection, Samobor.
2. Vienna travel service in its original casket, circa 1819, Porzellanmuseum im Augarten
3. Plate with basket-weave décor, Private Collection, Vienna 1805
Cup and saucer decorated with garden flowers in baskets by Joseph Nigg, Vienna 1804
4. Vienna coffee pot and cover in the shape of an ancient Greek Oinochoe (wine pot), c. 1810, Private Collection
Georgia Creimer, Untitled (For Leopoldina), 2022
The Brazilian artist Georgia Creimer, who lives in Vienna, created an installation for the exhibition at the Augarten Porcelain Museum as an homage to Leopoldina and the special reference of the location to a decisive moment in the life of the Archduchess, the feast on 1 June 1817 in the Augarten. A young woman in a white tulle dress explores her flowing, indeterminate surroundings, thus symbolising Leopoldina's situation shortly before her final departure from Vienna and her fantasy of the wonder worlds of Brazil - but also alluding to a painful future, which she mastered with intelligence and her free-spirited courage.
My Safe Place
extended until 8th October, 2021
The subject of the Augarten Porcelain Museum's new special exhibition is solitude, withdrawal in a safe place.
Whether alone or à deux, this state has acquired new significance in the year 2020. Historically speaking, it has not been rare for people to have to do without larger-scale social amusement - or to consciously choose to do so. For many reasons: pandemics and other threats, fancy, despair, or the demands of etiquette - or, more positively, the productivity of solitude for the creative mind. Our ancestors have always been familiar with the practice of self-isolation.
Porcelain has played its own role in this context. New inventions, such as the déjeuner or the trembleuse, added comfort to the 18th century solitude. In the 2oth and 21st centuries, the less courtly situations still demanded for supplies to comfort or entertain oneself or a small company in a safe place. Whether a lonely deep black Turkish coffee in the 1920s or a zoom coffee party in 2021, porcelain has often been useful in times of retreat.
The exhibition asks questions. Can you hear me? Where are you?
Snapshots from everyday life in safe or less safe places set the stage in the display cases.
On her 90th Birthday
A small special exhibition on the first floor of the museum is dedicated to the innovative works of designer Ursula Klasmann.
Born in Tallínn, Estonia, in 1930, she studied under Oswald Haerdtl at the Kunstgewerbeschule (now the University of Applied Arts) in Vienna from 1950 to 1955. After her diploma, Ursula Klasmann began her career at the Viennese porcelain manufactory Augarten and was instrumental in the development of a modern product line.
Nineteen décors and just as many shapes put the theme of porcelain into a new perspective. Black and white, and occasionally even bright colours, geometry and simplicity were her most important stylistic devices. Even today, the vase shapes, the boxes, her candlesticks and not least her Form No. 75 dinner service are of timeless validity. The dinner service was a contribution by the Augarten Porcelain Manufactory to the Triennale in Milan in 1960 and is characterised by forms with thoughtful details that combine functionality and beauty in a way that is in keeping with the designer's sympathetically uncomplicated and direct outlook.
We warmly congratulate Ursula Klasmann on her 90th birthday and thank her for her significant contribution to the history of Viennese porcelain.