04/04/15 Aggiornato il:

Archduke Leopold Wilhelm | Patron of the Arts



David Teniers the Younger | Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Gallery in Brussels
Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria (January 5, 1614-November 20, 1662) was an Austrian military commander, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands from 1647-1656 and a patron of the arts.
When he assumed the government of the Spanish Netherlands, Leopold Wilhelm, being a great lover of art, employed several painters from the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke, including the great Flemish painter David Teniers the Younger, who he not only employed as a painter but as keeper of the collection of pictures he was then forming. With the rank and title of "ayuda de camara", Teniers took up his abode in Brussels shortly after 1647.
Immense sums were spent in the acquisition of paintings for the archduke, including paintings by Frans Snyders, Pieter Snayers, Daniel Seghers, Peter Franchoys, Frans Wouters, Jan van den Hoecke, Pieter Thijs, Jan van de Venne and others. A number of valuable works of the Italian masters, now in the Vienna Museum, came from Leopold's gallery after having belonged to Charles I and the duke of Buckingham. He commissioned the British painter John Michael Wright to travel to Cromwell's England, and acquire art and artefacts.
When Leopold returned to Vienna, his collection of paintings was relocated to Austria. Jan Anton van der Baren, a Flemish priest, who was also a first-rate flower painter, became director of the archducal gallery. Leopold bequeathed his gallery to his nephew Leopold I, and it became imperial property. It is now part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
When the tomb of Childeric I, an early Merovingian king of the Salian Franks and father of Clovis I was discovered in 1653 (May 27) by a mason doing repairs in the church of Saint-Brice in Tournai, it was Leopold Wilhelm who had the find published in Latin.
David Teniers the Younger | Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Gallery in Brussels
The Picture Gallery of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm
A decisive figure in the founding of the Vienna Picture Gallery is Archduke Leopold Wilhelm (1614-1662), the brother of Emperor Ferdinand III. The archduke was regent of the Netherlands (1647-1656) and was able to take advantage of the political situation towards the end of the Thirty Years’ War, including the revolution in England, to acquire wonderful paintings. In addition to the collections of Buckingham and Hamilton, both of whom had collected outstanding works of (northern) Italian art, the archduke was also able to purchase masterpieces of Early Netherlandish and contemporary Flemish painting in the commercial centres of Antwerp and Brussels. He did so not only in his own interest but also for his brother, Emperor Ferdinand III, in Prague. These paintings were intended to replace those looted by the Swedes. In this manner, Leopold Wilhelm assembled a collection of around 1400 pictures. In 1656 they were brought to Vienna, put on display in the Stallburg, and catalogued in an exemplary manner. In 1662 they came into the possession of Emperor Leopold I.
The Habsburg collector Leopold Wilhelm, accompanied by his gallery director, David Teniers, and several other people, is depicted against a decorative background of paintings. The view is of the archduke’s gallery in Brussels, where he assembled one of the most important painting collections of the 17th century during his tenure as regent from 1647-56, providing an important basis for the Vienna Picture Gallery today.
Through the purchase of several large art collections that came onto the market following the revolution in England (1648), Leopold Wilhelm saw his gallery grow enormously within a short period. By the time he returned to Vienna in 1656, it contained around 1400 pictures. Most of the 51 Italian paintings depicted here are today in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. | © KHM-Museumsverband
David Teniers the Younger | Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Gallery in Brussels

David Teniers the Younger | Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Gallery in Brussels
Leopoldo Guglielmo d'Asburgo, arciduca d'Austria (Wiener Neustadt, 5 gennaio 1614-Vienna, 20 novembre 1662), è stato un militare, vescovo cattolico e collezionista d'arte austriaco, dal 1641 ricoprì la carica di Gran Maestro dell'Ordine Teutonico e dal 1647 al 1656 ricoprì la carica di governatore dei Paesi Bassi spagnoli.
Egli era il figlio minore dell'Imperatore Ferdinando II d'Asburgo e di sua moglie Maria Anna di Baviera, figlia a sua volta di Guglielmo V di Baviera. Leopoldo Guglielmo era inoltre fratello dell'Imperatore Ferdinando III d'Asburgo (1608-1657).
Sin dalla gioventù, Leopoldo Guglielmo prestò servizio come militare combattendo nella Guerra dei Trent'anni in Svezia ed in Boemia sebbene il padre lo avesse prescelto essenzialmente per indirizzarlo alla carriera ecclesiastica. Con l'influenza del potente genitore, in breve tempo, egli riuscì a ottenere un gran numero di episcopati nei territori dell'Impero o a divenirne amministratore apostolico: tra questi ricordiamo Halberstadt (1628-1648), Passau (1625-1662), Breslavia (1656-1662), Olmütz (1637-1662) e Strasburgo (1626-1662). nel 1635 papa Urbano VIII gli conferì inoltre l'Arcidiocesi di Brema, ma a causa dei suoi impegni bellici egli non poté mai di fatto occuparne la sede.
Durante la guerra franco-spagnola del (1635-59), Leopoldo Guglielmo guidò le forze dei Paesi Bassi spagnoli che persero la Battaglia di Lens nel 1648 nel tentativo di riprendere possesso della città. La rivincita avvenne nel 1652 quando riuscì a scacciare un pesante contrattacco francese e un ruolo notevole lo ebbe anche in Catalonia.
David Teniers the Younger | Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Gallery in Brussels
Quando assunse il governo dei Paesi Bassi spagnoli, Leopoldo Guglielmo iniziò la propria vera passione per le arti, divenendo un accanito collezionista di opere e chiamando a sé molti pittori soprattutto fiamminghi come David Teniers il Giovane che nominò suo curatore d'arte. Col titolo di "ayuda de camara", Teniers si preoccupò di riempire la residenza dell'arciduca a Bruxelles dei migliori quadri a partire dal 1647. Immense somme vennero spese per l'acquisizione delle opere tra le quali citiamo quadri di Frans Snyders, Pieter Snayers, Daniel Seghers, Peter Franchoys, Frans Wouters, Jan van den Hoecke, Pieter Thijs, e altri. Nella collezione entrarono anche moltissimi quadri di autori italiani (oggi conservati al Kunsthistoriches Museum di Vienna) giunti a Leopoldo Guglielmo dalla collezione che era appartenuta al defunto Carlo I d'Inghilterra ed a George Villiers, I duca di Buckingham. Per l'acquisizione di queste opere, egli nominò il pittore britannico John Michael Wright a suo rappresentante in Inghilterra.
Quando Leopoldo fece ritorno a Vienna si portò appresso anche tutta la propria collezione, fondando il primo nucleo della galleria arciducale che passò poi a suo nipote Leopoldo I d'Asburgo. Alla sua morte, venne designato come suo successore il nipote Carlo Giuseppe, che però morì di lì a poco in giovane età.
David Teniers the Younger | Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Gallery in Brussels