Focus Scientific Research

Asian Interior Decoration in Schönbrunn Palace

Gabriela Krist

Institute for Conservation and Restauration
The East Asian interior decoration at Schönbrunn Palace represents one of the world's most significant testimonies to the European aristocracy's taste for all things Asian, and the resultant style created left its stamp on princely domestic culture during the Baroque and Rococo eras. The collecting focus in Schönbrunn, as are the materials featured in this Project, are the ceramics/porcelains, the lacquerwares and watercolours. Based on the art and cultural historical scholarship to date, the research areas of conservation sciences, the humanities and natural sciences will be linked with each other to subject the Asiatica at Schönbrunn to a transdisciplinary examination.

The research project will focus on the materials used, their production technologies and the history of the objects. The results can support, amend or correct current art and cultural historical theses, especially with regard to dating and provenance. In the context of the Schönbrunn collections, the question of provenance and the early history of the objects is at the forefront; the porcelain and lacquer are part of a large conglomeration of Asian originals, some with European secondary finishing and others are entirely European-produced.

A study of the restoration history in the collection will investigate and identify the measures which have been taken to preserve the items over centuries, and those which would be considered appropriate today. Subsequently, conservation concepts will be developed, with particular emphasis on the installation of the porcelains and the watercolours in the Porcelain Cabinet, both with a view to innovative new mounting strategies and to optimise the exhibition procedures as well as the historic, original installation and the purpose/usage of the rooms.

The collaboration planned between the University for Applied Arts Vienna (UAA) with the Museum for Applied Arts (MAK), the Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H (SKB) and with the Japanese training and research centre, the National Research Institute of Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRCP) as well as the inclusion of external specialists and active exchange of information between the national and international bodies of research into royal and aristocratic residences will enable extensive basic research with international model character. The Project is sited at the central interface between the joint research efforts of conservation sciences, material sciences, technology and art and cultural history.