The emperor received petitioners standing behind a lectern that was placed beside the window. Here one could present one's concern, thank the monarch for an award bestowed or plead for clemency. As a rule, in order to receive as many people as possible, the audiences were kept brief and lasted only a few minutes, making the emperor’s schedule densely packed on days like these. Franz Joseph wrote to his ‘lady friend’ Katharina Schratt,
‘Yesterday I had 127, today I will be giving 108 audiences.'
Over the course of his long reign, Franz Joseph gave audiences to around 260,000 individuals. Both the emperor and his subject remained standing for the duration of the audience. The emperor usually ended the conversation with a slight inclination of the head.
Displayed here today is the last portrait of Franz Joseph, painted by the artist Heinrich Wassmuth in 1915, a year before the emperor’s death. On the left-hand wall are paintings of Franz Joseph’s predecessors: Franz II (I), the emperor’s grandfather, and his uncle Ferdinand, known as ‘the Good-hearted’. Both rulers are portrayed in the robes and insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which passed by marriage into the Habsburg dynasty and had been founded to defend Christendom.
The painting on the back wall by Franz Lenbach shows Franz Joseph in the full dress uniform of an Austrian field marshal.