Berthold Löffler: Emperor Franz Joseph’s bedroom in Schönbrunn, gouache, 1916

What do the emperor’s apartments look like? What about middle-class households?

Domestic style and interior design from the eighteenth century onwards


As you make your bed, so you must lie on it: imperial interiors primarily served to provide an appropriately grand setting for their occupants – for a long time cosiness or comfort were of only secondary importance. Moreover, since the time of Maria Theresa the principle of frugality had reigned supreme, also in matters of furnishing and decoration, which meant that pieces were often in use for long periods of time. Furnishings should be neither too ornate nor too fashionable and yet fulfil the expectations of Court state and pomp. From the nineteenth century the aspect of comfort started to predominate, both at the imperial residences and in middle-class households. New methods of production and improvements in the training of craftsmen promoted the Viennese style of Biedermeier cosiness, where the ‘middle-class parlour’ served as a safe retreat in a world of increasing mechanization and state repression.

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