Alfred Auer (Bearb.): Wir sind Helden. Habsburgische Feste in der Renaissance. Eine Ausstellung des Kunsthistorischen Museums Wien, Schloß Ambras, Innsbruck, 10. Juni - 31. Oktober 2005. Zum Gedenken an Elisabeth Speicher., Wien: Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien 2005, 176 S., hrsg. von Wilhelm Seipel, kart., 140 farb. Abb., ISBN 978-3-85497-094-1, EUR 25,00
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Wir sind Helden served as companion for the eponymous 2005 exhibition at Ambras castle, Innsbruck - part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (KHM). Wilfried Seipel, the director of the KHM opens the volume with a brief formal introduction. The book consists of five thematic chapters, each offering an introductory section followed by a numbered catalogue section describing the exhibits. The introductions are generally short, ranging from two to four pages. Veronika Sandbichler, listed in the volume though not on the title page as editor of the volume, wrote four of the six texts. Robert Lindell contributed a discussion of music; Margot Rauch introduced the last section. Other authors contributed to the catalogue entries.
The first chapter has two introductions: an overview of festivals at the Habsburg court and a brief discussion of music performed during these festivals. The exhibits discussed in some detail in the catalogue section include the 1585 festival of the Golden Fleece in Prague and Landshut, dynastic portraits, prints and manuscripts, some of them with musical notation, and even an intriguing hand-drawn layout for Archduke Ferdinand II's 1567 entry into Innsbruck. The second chapter discusses the 'meaning behind the visible', the programme visualized in pageantry and processions. Illustrations include details from processions, dynastic portraits, a trumpet, flute and kettle drums used during such processions. The third chapter on tournaments opens with the picture of a notorious giant in the service of Archduke Ferdinand II, the so-called 'Wild Man'. Exhibits include masks, shields, armour - some of these in strikingly oriental flavour. In addition, there are prints showing tournaments, mock land and sea battles, and more processions. The fourth part is devoted to manuscripts depicting Ferdinand II's 1582 wedding. The fifth chapter, finally, focuses on banquets, dance and fireworks. Margot Rauch's brief introduction is followed by depictions of meals and fireworks, some again in the context of the 1585 Vliesfest, and of luxurious table ornaments, some in elaborate forms such as a wolf and a ship. We find more portraits, prints, and now those instruments suitable to the more intimate indoor environment of dinner: lute, cembalo, woodwinds.
The exhibition itself, held in a limited sequence of rooms in the Ambras castle, was exquisite though limited in scope. The same holds true for the catalogue: its well-chosen illustrations convey a playful and intimate notion of Habsburg court festivals; the competent accompanying texts, however, do not have the ambition to go beyond the exhibition itself. We should not compare it to more ambitious endeavours, such as the catalogue for the 2002-2003 exhibition in Berlin's Deutsches Historisches Museum, Die öffentliche Tafel, which drew more extensively on recent scholarly discussions.  Likewise for a more probing discussion of court festivals, with accompanying source editions, readers can now turn to the two majestic Europa Triumphans-volumes.  Having outlined these limitations, we can still appreciate the attractive and distinctive contribution of Wir sind Helden.
 Hans Ottomeyer / Michaela Völkel (ed.): Die öffentliche Tafel. Tafelzeremoniell in Europa 1300-1900, Wolfratshausen / Berlin 2002.
 Cf. Jeroen Duindam: Review of: J. R. Mulryne / Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly / Margaret Shewring (ed.): Europa Triumphans. Court and Civic Festivals in Early Modern Europe, Aldershot: Ashgate 2004, in: sehepunkte 5 (2005), no. 7/8 [15.07.2005], URL: http://www.sehepunkte.de/2005/07/8796.html.