After its renovation and restructuring, the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts
' Gallery of Paintings is now accessible to the public again.
Surrounded by the artists' studios and workshops on the first floor of the Academy of Fine Arts is a world-ranking collection of European painting from the 14th to the 19th centuries.
A central foyer on the second floor after plans by architect Georg Töpfer connects the existing Gallery of Paintings with the new exhibition area 'x hibit' for changing exhibitions in conjunction with the Academy's study programs.
In its character as a pinacoteca - a gallery exclusively dedicated to paintings - and in its tradition, the Paintings Gallery is comparable to collections of international standing at historical academies of art such as the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan or the Galleria dell'Accademia in Venice. Unlike these, however, it still constitutes part of the organisational structure of the Viennese Academy of Fine Arts and is inseparably linked to its profile.
The Academy's initial holdings consisted of prize-winning works from the Academy's annual awards ceremony and pieces painted for admission to membership of the Academy during the 18th century. It was not until 1822, when the imperial diplomat Count Lamberg-Sprinzenstein donated his internationally-renowned collection of about 800 paintings to the Academy, that the Paintings Gallery as such was established. According to the terms of Count Lamberg-Sprinzenstein's generous bequest, the collection was opened to the general public, thus becoming the first art museum in Austria. Over the years the holdings have been extended by further smaller donations. Today about 250 paintings from the collection are permanently exhibited.
The works on display include highlights of European painting such as the triptych of the Last Judgement by Hieronymus Bosch as well as a series of exuberant small-scale oil sketches by Rubens. Dutch painting of the 17th century is represented in almost all of its many facets from Rembrandt to Ruisdael and De Hooch, while the Italian, French and Spanish schools are showcased in works by Botticelli, Titian, Murillo, Claude, Tiepolo and Guardi. The heyday of the Vienna Academy around 1800 is represented by Füger, Wutky and Abel.
Since 2004 the Paintings Gallery has been a partner institution of the Private Art Collections (PAC), an association initiated by the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna combining collections assembled by aristocratic patrons or other private collectors.