Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria

Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria

Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria (Wiener Neustadt January 5 1614 -Vienna November 20 1662), was a military commander, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands from 1647 to 1656, and a patron of the arts. He is also known as Leopold Wilhelm von Habsburg but as a son of the Emperor carried the title Archduke of Austria.

He was the youngest son of Ferdinand II of Habsburg and of Maria-Anna of Bavaria (1574-1616), daughter of William V, Duke of Bavaria.His elder brother became Emperor Ferdinand III (1608-1657). Leopold became bishop and served as general in the Thirty Years' War.

When he assumed the government of the Spanish Netherlands, Leopold Wilhelm, being a great lover of art, employed the great Flemish painter David Teniers the Younger not only as a painter but as keeper of the collection of pictures he was then forming. With the rank and title of "ayuda de camara," Teniers took up his abode in Brussels shortly after 1647. Immense sums were spent in the acquisition of paintings for the archduke. A number of valuable works of the Italian masters, now in the Vienna Museum, came from Leopold's gallery after having belonged to Charles I and the duke of Buckingham. He commissioned the British painter John Michael Wright to acquire to travel to Cromwell's England, and acquire art and artefacts.

When Leopold returned to Vienna, the pictures also travelled to Austria, and a Flemish priest, himself a first-rate flower painter, Van der Baren, became keeper of the archducal gallery. Leopold bequeathed his gallery to his nephew Leopold I, and it became imperial property. It is now part of the "Kunsthistorisches Museum" in Vienna.




* Renate Schreiber, "ein galeria nach meinem humor" - Erzherzog Leopold Wilhelm. Vienna/Wien 2004

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