HISTORY OF THE COLLECTION

 

THE FOUNDER OF THE COLLECTION: DUKE ALBERT OF SAXE-TESCHEN

 

Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen (1738-1822) founded the Graphic Art Collection between 1770 und 1822. Deliberately conceived on an encyclopaedic scale and with an educational orientation, it was fully in accordance with the enlightened precepts of its era.

In 1822, the year of the duke’s passing, the collection comprised some 14,000 drawings and around 200,000 sheets of graphic art prints, which, of first-rate quality and a universalcomposition, covered all of the important art movements

Friedrich Heinrich Füger, Duke Albrecht of Saxe-Teschen © Albertina, Vienna

Friedrich Heinrich Füger
Duke Albrecht of Saxe-Teschen

 from the end of the Middle Ages to the first quarter of the 19th century.

This core collection, which Duke Albert compiled as an instructive conspectus of the development of art since the late Middle Ages, continues to form the basic foundation of the Albertina. Unchanged in its basic structure, the holdings of the collection were continuously expanded and augmented, the editions being primarily works of what, at any time, were the contemporary art movements. That orientation has been retained until this day. 
 

 

 

 

THE CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT OF THE DUCAL COLLECTION BETWEEN 1822 AND 1919

 

The nephew, adoptive son and universal heir to Duke Albert, Archduke Carl (1771-1847) and his son Albrecht (1817-1895) administered the collection from 1822 onwards and expanded it, above

Georg Decker (copy after Anton Einsle), Archduke Carl of Austria, after 1847 © Albertina, Vienna

Georg Decker (copy after Anton Einsle)
Archduke Carl of Austria, after 1847

The acquisitions effected after 1895 by their successor, Archduke Frederick (1856-1936), were, however, for the most part, lost to the collection, as they had to be ceded to him as his private property, following the takeover of the Albertina in 1920 into state ownership.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE "STATE GRAPHIC ART COLLECTION ALBERTINA" AFTER 1919

 

After World War One and following the demise of the monarchy the collection of Duke Albert and his heirs became the property of the Austrian Republic, as of April of 1919. In December of 1920 it was conjoined, by a governmental decree, with the eminent copperplate holdings of the former all with contemporary art works former imperial court library.

Paul Signac, View of Montauban in the Rain, 1922, Black chalk, watercolour © Albertina, Vienna

Paul Signac

View of Montauban in the Rain, 1922

Thus, two historic collections of the very highest ranking formed the core of today’s Albertina Museum.
The expansion of the collection between the years 1923 to 1934 under Alfred Stix (1882-1957) was particularly rich in scope. Above all, it was an increase of French and German drawings of the heretofore scantily presented 19th century that helped to round out the museum’s holdings towards completeness.
In the time interval between 1934 and the end of World War Two (1945) the focus of attention was concentrated largely on Austrian and German graphic art of the 19th and 20th century.

 

 

 

 

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALBERTINA AFTER WORLD WAR TWO

 

The expansion of the collection in the area of Austrian art remained a priority of Albertina directors even after 1945.

Otto Benesch (1896-1964), aside from complementary old masters’ drawings, added to the museum’s holdings by obtaining fabulous works by Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Alfred Kubin for the collection.

Claudet Monet, The water lily pond, around 1919, Oil on canvas © Albertina, Vienna - On permanent loan from the Batliner Collection

Claudet Monet

The water lily pond, around 1919

 Walter Koschatzky (1921-2003) consolidated accessions, particularly among drawings and watercolours of the 19th century, as capital works by Rudolf von Alt, Peter Fendi and Thomas Ender evince. Beyond that, both Koschatzky and Benesch were anxious to have the multifarious tendencies of art after 1945 represented at the Albertina. This aspiration was also shared and solidified by Konrad Oberhuber (1935-2007) through an increased series of purchases of international works.

Klaus Albrecht Schröder, who has been director of the Albertina since 2000, concentrates his purchasing policy on acquisitions of international contemporary art and central works of the Austrian art of the 20th and 21st century. The addition of the Batliner, Forberg and Rheingold collections on permanent loan has brought about a landmark increase of international Classical Modernism and contemporary art at the Albertina.