The Alexander Apartments
The Alexander Apartments were used by Empress Elisabeth for dinners and receptions. Accessed via the Alexander Staircase, they consisted of a vestibule, Dining Room, Large Salon, the Boucher Room and the Small Anteroom. This suite of rooms is named after a tapestry cycle depicting the heroic exploits of Alexander the Great which once graced the white and gold panelling. These richly decorated apartments were designed in 1764 by Nikolaus Pacassi for Joseph II on his election as Roman King in the same year, when he was deemed to need apartments of his own with appropriate stately décor.
From 1916 to 1918 the last Austrian emperor, Karl I, had his official rooms here but hardly ever used them as he was mostly at army headquarters in Baden or at the front.
Red Salon (Boucher Room)
The decoration of this room with its eighteenth-century tapestries from the Gobelin manufactory in Paris is the epitome of princely magnificence. These tapestries were a gift from the French king Louis XVI to his brother-in-law Emperor Joseph II, when the latter was visiting Versailles in 1777. Joseph’s sister Marie Antoinette had married the French dauphin seven years previously, at the age of fourteen. The marriage had however remained childless. On his visit Joseph had a private conversation with his brother-in-law, details of which remain vague. Nonetheless, very soon afterwards the queen found she was with child, and in gratitude the royal couple heaped valuable gifts on Joseph, including these tapestries. The tapestries are highly decorative in their effect, with the medallions at their centres based on paintings by Francois Boucher. The upholstery of the armchairs, canapés as well as the tapestries covering the firescreen and screen were also made in the Manufacture des Gobelins between 1772 and 1776. In contrast to other European princely residences, here tapestries were used to suggest the wealth and standing of the dynasty, a tradition that was regarded as outdated elsewhere in Europe.