Empress Maria Theresa with her Sons Joseph II, Leopold II, Ferdinand, and Maximilian Francis
39.4 cm x 25.2 cm (15 1/2 in. x 9 15/16 in.)
Franz Anton Maulbertsch
(Langenargen am Bodensee (Germany), 1724 - 1796, Vienna)
Medium and Support:
Pen and brown and black inks with brush and brown and gray washes over traces of
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
The empress Maria Theresa (1717–1780), queen of Hungary and Bohemia from 1740, is considered the greatest Hapsburg ruler for her numerous reforms, tenacious struggle against Prussian secession, and sagacity. Here she is enthroned at the center of the composition. At the upper left, an allegorical figure places a halo upon a portrait bust and holds a crown above a young man with a staff that rhymes with the scepter of the empress. The scene commemorates both the death of her husband, Francis I, and the naming of her eldest son, twenty-four-year-old Joseph II, as coregent and emperor in 1765.
At the time Maulbertsch was at the height of his powers and success. The imagery and style of this drawing––its amorphous space, undulating surface and flickering light––are closely related to his celebrated decorations at Kromeríz, Halbturn and Vienna. With its autograph notation of colors on the verso, this sheet must have been preparatory for another, unidentified imperial commission.