Imperial Diet Ceremonies.
Disegni dei sedili e banchi nelli varj Apartamenti dell’Imperiale Palazzo di Vienna disposti per li Ministri ed Ufficiali aulici secondo il rispettivo loro grado cominciando dal Sedile di S.M.C. sopra 4. gradini sotto il Baldacchino.... Manuscript on paper, in French. Austria (?), mid-eighteenth century.
335x205 mm.  leaves. Six watercolours depicting the tables and armchairs (mostly coloured in green, brown, and red) in the Hofburg Imperial Apartments once used for meetings of the Imperial Diet. Contemporary marbled and gauffered paper. Italian title inked in a contemporary hand on the upper cover, small paper label on the spine, with early shelfmark. Paper rather abraded along the board edges. A well-preserved manuscript.
Fascinating album of six watercolours depicting the furnishings – especially the chairs, armchairs, and tables – of the great chambers of the Imperial Diet at the Hofburg in Vienna. The former imperial palace and main residence of the Habsburg dynasty rulers, the Hofburg is also the only court residence to have permanently been kept furnished. As the documented seat of government, its chambers provided the setting for countless ceremonies and delegate receptions for Diets held in Vienna, this being the highest representative assembly of the Holy Roman Empire.
The plates are titled, in French, La Sale de Re et Correlation; Le College Electoral; Le College des Princes; L'Appartement Electoral; L'Appartement des Princess; and Le College des Villes Imperiale. For each of the six plates, a legend is provided describing the furniture depicted as well as the relative placements of the Emperor and Prince-Electors, among other various representatives. Thus, for example, the plate Le College des Princes illustrates the furnishings for meetings presided over by the Imperial Diet's Council of Princes, including the chairs of its director, co-director, and secretaries, the bench for the bishops of Osnabrück and Lübeck, and even a clock – an 'horologe fait de la manière que celui de Strasbourg' – and small jam table – a 'table petite pour les Confitures'. The plate of the College Electoral, meanwhile, depicts a large table with a seat for the envoyés of the different Prince Electors, 'selon l'ordre suivant Mayence, Treves, Cologne, Bohême, Bavarie, Saxe, Brandenbourg, Palatin et Brounsvic': also in this chamber is a small table for Confitures that must not be missed. The tables here are covered in green velvet and the chairs are upholstered in a wonderful red damask rendered with especial care by the work's anonymous artist.
An album of watercolours (353x221 mm) titled Mobiliar der Zimmer zur Kaiserwahl and illustrating six identical subjects is now preserved in the Hessische Landesbiliothek Fulda (Hs 48). The Moravian Library in Brno holds a similar album, bearing the exact same German title, but with illustrations that have been rather carelessly executed.
This newly discovered manuscript is of the greatest import to the history of the Imperial Diet and its ceremonial traditions, as well as the history of eighteenth-century design in general.
G. von Demilić, The Hofburg in Vienna: Dwelling and Ceremonial Apartments of the Former Imperial Family, Vienna [ca. 1930]; H. Karner (ed.), Die Wiener Hofburg 1521-1705. Baugeschichte, Funktion und Etablierung als Kaiseresidenz, Wien 2014; L. Hellmut (ed.), Die Wiener Hofburg 1705-1835. Die kaiserliche Residenz vom Barock bis zum Klassizismus, Wien 2016; M. Beck, Macht-Räume Maria Theresias. Funktion und Zeremoniell in ihren Residenzen, Jagd- und Lustschlössern, Berlin 2017; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 233.