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Large Salon of Empress Elisabeth

Large Salon (c) SKB, Photo: Alexander Eugen Koller

This room was used by Elisabeth as a reception room. When the empress was resident at the Hofburg, the imperial couple occasionally took breakfast together in this room.

The paintings on its walls evoke the empress’s admiration for all things Greek and for the Mediterranean landscape in general. She travelled extensively in the region and was deeply interested in its history, mythology and culture.

The empress’s Large Salon contains a marble figure executed by Antonio Canova, a neoclassical sculptor who enjoyed great acclaim during the Napoleonic era, depicting Napoleon’s sister Elisa Bonaparte in the shape of the Greek muse Polyhymnia.

Elisa Bonaparte had commissioned Canova to make a statue of her but after her brother’s fall no longer had the funds to pay for the sculpture, which had been completed in the meantime. Canova promptly altered the portrait-like features to represent an idealized muse. At the instigation of Leopoldo Cicognara, adviser on artistic matters to Emperor Franz II (I), the statue came to Vienna as a marriage gift for Empress Karolina Augusta, the emperor’s fourth wife, in 1816, and was eventually installed in the salon of Empress Elisabeth in the Amalia Wing of the Hofburg.

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