The Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, one of the few to have been founded as early as the close of the 17th century, possesses a visual heritage in its collection that most other Academies have long since lost. Alongside the Collection of Plaster Casts, now greatly depleted, the Graphic Collection mirrors over 300 years of teaching activity with its holdings of approximately 40,000 drawings, 100,000 prints and around 20,000 historic photographs. The history of the collection is not only inextricably linked to the development of the Academy as an institution but also to art and art politics in the former Habsburg Monarchy and its successor states.
The 18th century collection reflects the individual stages of the Academy's evolution, from its foundation in 1692 to the unification of all the specialist schools in 1772. The most important transition and transformation in the character of the collection from teaching collection to the second largest collection of prints and drawings in the Monarchy was facilitated by large donations, bequests and purchases during the first half of the 19th century. From 1850 onwards, the respective responsible ministry purchased works by Austrian artists on a regular basis and amassed an important collection of Austrian and German Romantic drawings and watercolours.
The holdings of architectural drawings are of particular importance as they include the largest collection of gothic building plans in the world as well as the bequests of Franz Jäger, Theophil Hansen, Ernst A. Plischke and Ernst W. Heiss.
Viewed within the context of the tuition and training reforms of the 19th century, the collection of historic photographs is of inestimable significance, providing as it did not only incunabula but also examples of the work of prominent photographers and reproduction art photographs for teaching purposes.