Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace, Bergl Rooms

Throughout her life, Maria Theresa had a predilection for the exotic. By that she meant Far Eastern art which she generally referred to as Indian. In the years 1769/70 as well as in the course of the 1770s, the widowed Empress had the so-called Bergl Room on the ground floor of Schönbrunn Palace decorated with illusionistic murals.
Bergl Room Schönbrunn, Picture by Archive European wall and ceiling painting Institute of Frescography

A few years earlier she had already commissioned Johann Wenzel Bergl to do similar exotic landscape paintings at the Episcopal Palace Ober-St. Veit which she had purchased in 1762. She must have been more than pleased with the work he had done there since she also entrusted Bergl with mural decorations for the Hofburg as well as for Schönbrunn in the “Indian, American or Japanese fashion” she particularly appreciated. These illusionistic and largely exotic landscapes entirely cover the walls and vaults and aim at dissolving the confines of the room. With regard to the walls, the paintings at the Schönbrunn apartments were applied on canvas using tempera painting whereas in the vaulting zone, they were done directly on the wall using the secco technique.

Bergl furnished three suites of Schönbrunn with landscape paintings: The one in the eastern part of the southern side oriented towards the Great Parterre was used by the ageing monarch herself as her private summer apartment. The east-facing apartment at the Meidling Privy Gardens was inhabited by Archduchess Maria Elisabeth who lived at the Viennese Court, while the one in the western part of the southern side was used by Maximilian Franz, the youngest Archduke.