Emperor Maximilian I was a "media emperor", who spared no efforts for the representation of his person and to secure his posthumous fame. He employed the best artists and made use of the most modern media of his time. Many of the most outstanding works produced for the propaganda and commemoration of Emperor Maximilian I are preserved in the Albertina
. These include not only numerous works by Albrecht Dürer, but also Albrecht Altdorfers Triumphal Procession a work in gouache on parchment the artist and his workshop executed for Maximilian which will be in the focus of our exhibition.
Besides Maximilian's tomb at the Hofkirche in Innsbruck and the monumental Triumphal Arch, the Triumphal Procession is the largest and most important of his commissions: following the model of ancient triumphal processions, it presents musicians, hunters, banner carriers, artillery, magnificent imperial carriages, soldiers, knights and princes, statues of Maximilians Habsburg ancestors, his wedding to Mary of Burgundy and his wars. The Triumphal Procession thus reflects the most important persons and events of Maximilians life and, like the other major projects, was intended to serve his eternal memory and the glory of the House of Habsburg.
This work was once composed of 109 large-sized sheets, out of which numbers 49 to 109, as well as the authors sheet, have survived and all of which still show their original brilliant colours; put together, these body-colour paintings amount to more than fifty metres in length. They were last presented publicly in 1959 on the occasion of the Albertinas exhibition honouring the 500th anniversary of Maximilians birthday reason enough to not only present them again in their entirety and on a large scale, but also to reassess them from a scientific point of view.
The subsequent translation of the Triumphal Procession into the woodcut medium by Hans Burgkmair, Albrecht Altdorfer, and their workshops illustrates the works multiple-stage realization, which the emperor requested for almost all of his commissions. In terms of both form and idea, the Triumphal Procession and the monumental woodcut of the Triumphal Arch, which will also be on display in the exhibition, as well as the book projects Theuerdank, Weißkunig, and Freydal, are all intrinsically related to one another, since all of them treat the ever-recurring core themes of Maximilians life: his noble lineage, his extraordinary talents, his devoutness, and his military glory. Another section of the exhibition will be devoted to knighthood and the Order of St George; further focal points will deal with the emperors interest in genealogy, the reception of antiquity, and humanism.
In addition to important works from the holdings of the Albertina, many international lenders are contributing to the exhibition including the the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York.