Monday, April 19, 2010

#207 Austria...Thanks Ingrid!

The 10c stamp is from 2007 definitive series of Flowers.

The middle 65c stamp was issued in 2010 showing Schloss Belvedere,which is a baroque palace complex built by Prince Eugene of Savoy in the 3rd district of Vienna, south-east of the city centre. It houses the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere museum.

After buying the plot of land in 1697, Prince Eugene had a large park created. The Belvedere palace began as a suburban entertainment villa: in 1714 work began to erect what is now called the Lower Belvedere, not as a palace but as a garden villa, with an orangerie and paintings gallery, with suitable living quarters. The architect was Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, one of the most important architects of the Austrian Baroque, who produced in the complex of buildings his masterwork. He was assisted by the Venetian sculptor Giovanni Stanetti, who had been brought to Vienna by Prince Eugene, with his atelier of assistants; now he also provided properly Italianate sculptural details, such as the figures along the balustrade and garden sculptures. The Lower Belvedere was finished in 1716. The ceiling of its central Marmorsaal ("Marble Hall"), painted by Martino Altomonte, celebrates Prince Eugene as a new Apollo, leader of the Muses. The room also contains an Apotheosis of Prince Eugene sculpted by Balthasar Permoser.

In 1720-1723, the Upper Belvedere was built, originally intended simply to provide a suitable end to the main garden axis. The architect was again Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt. Once again there is a central Marmorsaal—the site of the signing of the Austrian State Treaty, that formed modern Austria, May 15, 1955—but the Schloss was soon enlarged to provide the main summer residence of Prince Eugene. Its painted ceilings are by Carlo Innocenzo Carlone, with an altarpiece in the chapel by Francesco Solimena.

The complex was sold in 1752 to Empress Maria Theresa of Austria by the prince's heiress. Maria Theresa first named the building "Belvedere". Under the Habsburgs it was further extended. Since 1775, the Belvedere has housed the imperial picture gallery on behalf of Joseph II, and in 1806 the collection of Ambras Palace was moved to the Lower Belvedere as well. Both were transferred to the Museum of Art History in 1890. The last to reside here was Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Since World War I, the Austrian Gallery museum resides in the Belvedere.

The building suffered heavy damage during World War II. The Gold Cabinet burnt out and had to be reconstructed.

The right 65c stamp was issued in 2010 commemorating Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736),who was one of the most prominent and successful military commanders in modern European history.

Born in Paris to aristocratic Savoyard parents, Eugene grew up around the French court of King Louis XIV. He was initially prepared for a career in the church, but by the age of 19 he had determined on a military career. Rejected by Louis XIV for service in the French army, Eugene moved to Austria, and transferred his loyalty to the Habsburg Monarchy.

Spanning six decades, Eugene served three Habsburg emperors – Leopold I, Joseph I, and Charles VI. Eugene first saw action against the Ottoman Turks at the Siege of Vienna in 1683 and the subsequent War of the Holy League, before serving in the Nine Years' War alongside his cousin, the Duke of Savoy. However, the Prince's fame was secured with his crushing victory against the Ottomans at the Battle of Zenta in 1697. Eugene enhanced his standing during the War of the Spanish Succession where his partnership with the Duke of Marlborough secured victories against the French on the fields of Blenheim, Oudenarde and Malplaquet; he gained further success as Imperial commander in northern Italy, most notably at Turin in 1706. Renewed hostilities against the Ottomans in the Austro-Turkish War of (1716–18) consolidated his reputation with victories at the battles of Petrovaradin, and Belgrade.

Throughout the late 1720s Eugene's influence and skilful diplomacy managed to secure the Emperor powerful allies in his dynastic struggles with the Bourbon powers; but physically and mentally fragile in his later years, Eugene enjoyed less success as commander-in-chief of the army during his final conflict, the War of the Polish Succession. Nevertheless, in Austria, Eugene's reputation remains unrivalled. Although opinions differ as to his character, there is no dispute over his great achievements: Eugene helped to save the Habsburg Empire from French conquest; he broke the westward thrust of the Ottomans, liberating central Europe after a century and a half of Turkish occupation; and he was one of the greatest patrons of the arts, whose building legacy can still be seen in Vienna today. Eugene died in his sleep at his home on 21 April 1736 aged 72.

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