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Art Treasures from the Vienna Collections

November 20, 1949 – January 22, 1950
Ground Floor Galleries Main Floor, East and West Sculpture Halls, Lobbies A, B, C

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: Among 279 objects were 128 paintings by artists such as Titian, Jacopo Tintoretto, Diego Velázquez, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, and Johannes Vermeer (Vermeer's The Artist in His Studio, also in the exhibition, was selected by Hitler as the most important acquisition for his proposed museum at Linz). Also shown were 32 Renaissance bronzes, 2 miniatures, 6 Greek and Roman antiquities, 8 ivories, 15 works of goldsmiths and silversmiths (the Cellini gold Salt), 33 vessels of rock crystal and precious stones, 2 pieces of jewelry, 27 pieces of arms and armor, 19 French and Flemish tapestries, and a clock. The works for this exhibition were lent by the Austrian government in gratitude to the American people for the rescue of the works of art from the salt mines in Upper Austria, where they had been hidden during the war. Nearly all the pieces came from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and had been acquired by members of the house of Habsburg, rulers from 1273 to 1917.

Accompanied by Dr. Ernst Buschbeck, curator of the Vienna Picture Gallery, and Erich Stromer, curator of sculpture and objets d'art at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the exhibition continued to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Except for a few fragile items not seen in the United States, the same exhibition had already been on view in London, Paris, Zurich, Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. The shipment of 101 cases was brought from England by the United States Navy in a refrigerator ship.

To guard the collection, the Gallery increased its security force from 80 to 105 men and brought in 9 military policemen from the 3rd Infantry Regiment. On November 6, 2 weeks before the opening, President and Mrs. Harry Truman, unannounced, spent 90 minutes viewing the exhibition.

Attendance: 875,173 (62 days); 41,725 on opening day; 39,000 in the first 3 hours; 45,883 on closing day.

Attendance: 875,173

Catalog: Art Treasures from the Vienna Collections, Lent by the Austrian Government. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1949.

Other Venues: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Art Institute of Chicago
M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco