Fish, Birds, and Reptiles - Masterpieces from the Imperial Collections. The exhibition shows impressive anmimal illustrations from the 16th and 17th century and documents the strong relation between scientific detail and the high art of artistic naturalism. For the first time in history two magnificent opera magni are presented to the public: a fascinating „Bestiaire” called the „Museum” of Rudolf II., and the amazing „Aquarelle der Fauna des adriatischen Meeres”, created by Giorgio Liberale on behalf of Ferdinand II., Duke of Tyrol.
In 16th century Europe the courts - and the universities - were the centres of arts and sciences. In Vienna the Emperor Rudolf II. (1552–1612) assembled famous scholars and artists, and he collected rare and exotic objects from all over the world in his Wunderkammer, among them the beautiful „Bestiare” with more than 181 paintings of animals from Austria and exotic countries. Some of those works of art go back to studies by Hans Hoffmann (1530–1591/92) and Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526–1593).
Ferdinand II’s (1529–1595) „Fauna of the Adriatic Sea” comprises 100 watercolours by the artist Giorgio Liberale (1527– before 1580) who illustrated more than 1100 animals in life-size in front of artificial beaches and other richly decorated landscapes.