Ambras Castle celebrates the 2019 Anniversary Year with a special exhibition, showcasing artworks that Emperor Maximilian I had commissioned to ensure the preservation of his memory. Maximilian’s empty tomb is the center of the exhibition.
Emperor Maximilian’s (empty) black marble tomb at Innsbruck’s Court Church, intended to glorify the Holy Roman Empire, is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance-style monuments in Europe. This special exhibition at Ambras Castle documents the history of its origin. It was Maximilian’s great-grandson Archduke Ferdinand II who completed the ornate cenotaph in 1584. A highlight of the exhibition is the spectacular visualization of Maximilian’s cenotaph (“Maximilian goes digital”), which was created in collaboration between the University of Innsbruck and the Provincial Government of Tirol.
One of the most intriguing rulers of the Renaissance, Maximilian was an influential patron of arts and printmaking in the early sixteenth century who shrewdly used arts as a means of self-promotion. He spent a great deal of time and money perpetuating his own memory, both in works and pictures about himself and in several romantic versions of his own life which he wrote. Many of the artworks Emperor Maximilian commissioned to glorify himself and his ancestors came into the property of Ambras Castle through Archduke Ferdinand II. Maximilian’s endeavours to preserve his memory manifested themselves in portraits, autobiographical publications, coins, monumental woodcuts and the designs for his tomb, making use of the arts to glorify his person, exploits and achievements. Maximilian I wanted to ensure that "gedachtnus" (memory) of him should not fade ‘as soon as the death knell ceases to toll’. He strove to be eternally remembered as a noble knight and a great warrior who was chosen by destiny to protect Christianity from disbelievers.