DETROIT, MI.- “All Glitter and Gold: Princely Treasures from Vienna and Dresden, 1450-1750,” is the title of this year’s annual Dr. Coleman Mopper Memorial Lecture on Saturday, April 18 at 2 p.m. It will be delivered by independent scholar Archduke Dr. Géza von Habsburg, a direct descendant of the last emperors of Austria and of the Saxon royal family. He will highlight the richness of two of the most spectacular princely collections of Renaissance and baroque Europe: the fabled Green Vault in Dresden and the Imperial Treasury in Vienna. The lecture is free with museum admission.
The Green Vault and Imperial Treasury collections were assembled by the House of Wettin, a dynasty of German royalty that ruled parts of Germany for more than 800 years, and the Habsburg emperors, respectively. The collections comprise hundreds of pieces of gold, silver, bronze, rock-crystal and colored precious stones, ivory, mother-of-pearl, ostrich eggs, and other exotic materials fashioned into beautiful and often whimsical objects. Such collections, which attempted to encompass the wonders of the natural world as well as those created through the genius of man, were originally crafted to proclaim the refinement, education, wealth, and social ambitions of the owners. Princely collectors often engaged in fierce competition, trying to outdo one another in the magnificence and rarity of the objects they amassed.
Dr. von Habsburg holds a Ph.D. in art history and specializes in the study of famous collectors and their prestigious collections from the Renaissance to the present. Formerly head of the silver department at Christie’s, he is a longtime distinguished lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the author of Princely Treasures (Vendome Press, 1997), co-author of Princely Taste: Treasures from Great Private Collections (Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1995), and is otherwise known for his numerous publications on the Russian court jeweler Carl Fabergé.