Hans Miedler Fine Art’s loca­tion reflects in an incom­pa­ra­ble way the change that has tak­en place over four cen­turies. The rise and decline of fam­i­ly dynas­ties, the flour­ish­ing of the first whole­sale hous­es, the social boom of the man­u­fac­tur­ers and their result­ing posi­tion in soci­ety, as well as the emer­gence of the first pri­vate banks.The inter­de­pen­den­cies of the Euro­pean aris­to­crat­ic hous­es are also clear­ly reflect­ed here. This sto­ry doesn’t aim to be com­plete but rather a del­i­cate guide through a bygone era.


For a long time now, I have been think­ing about writ­ing down the his­to­ry of the place I have had the plea­sure of resid­ing at for many years. With such a long his­to­ry and so many per­son­al­i­ties at hand, a short sum­ma­ry has not proven easy. If you includ­ed all the char­ac­ters who have lived, loved, cel­e­brat­ed, danced, made music or found their final rest­ing place with­in these walls, you could write a whole book.

This place reflects in an incom­pa­ra­ble way the change that has tak­en place over four cen­turies. The rise and decline of fam­i­ly dynas­ties, the flour­ish­ing of the first whole­sale hous­es, the social boom of the man­u­fac­tur­ers and their result­ing posi­tion in soci­ety, as well as the emer­gence of the first pri­vate banks.The inter­de­pen­den­cies of the Euro­pean aris­to­crat­ic hous­es are also clear­ly reflect­ed here. This sto­ry doesn’t aim to be com­plete but rather a del­i­cate guide through a bygone era. 

If you can take some time, just a lit­tle moment from your oth­er­wise busy every­day life, then I invite you to take a walk through the his­to­ry of this spe­cial place with me. For the cur­rent friends of our art house and for those who will be in the future.


Hans Miedler

A place with his­to­ry, a house, its own­ers, over more than four centuries

Palais Fries — Pallavici­ni, its his­to­ry over the chang­ing time

The Palais Pallavici­ni, for­mer­ly Palais Fries, is locat­ed oppo­site the ensem­ble of the Vien­na Hof­burg, along­side the Span­ish Rid­ing School, the Nation­al Library and the Augus­tin­ian Church on one of the city’s most impor­tant squares, Josefsplatz. 

Bild Josefsplatzfürganzoben
The "Josefsplatz" with National Library, Augustinian Church, and Palais Pallavicini to the left  — Private Collection Hans Miedler

Its epony­mous name came from Emper­or Josef II, the son of Maria There­sa, whose large eques­tri­an stat­ue, which was made in the style of Marc Antony in Vien­na, forms the cen­ter of the square.

In the ear­ly 16th cen­tu­ry, more pre­cise­ly 1529, the place where Palais Fries — Pallavici­ni stood was the res­i­dence of Nicholas, Count of Salm (1459 — 1530), the reign­ing count of Neuburg and a gen­er­al of the Renais­sance. At the age of 17, Nicholas, Count of Salm took part in the Bat­tle of Murten against Charles the Bold, the Duke of Bur­gundy, in 1476. In 1488 he fought in Flan­ders, and from 1491 he was the chief Impe­r­i­al cap­tain. In 1509 he fought under Georg von Frunds­berg in Italy and sub­se­quent­ly con­quered Istria. In 1525 Nicholas, Count of Salm was involved in the cap­ture of King Fran­cis I of France in the Bat­tle of Pavia, and in 1526 he con­trolled the Peas­ants’ Revolt in Tyrol and con­quered Schlad­ming. In 1529 he was in com­mand of the first Turk­ish siege in Vien­na and orga­nized the suc­cess­ful defense of the city, which made him famous in the Hab­s­burg Empire. The strains of the many bat­tles and an injury sus­tained defend­ing Vien­na final­ly led to his death in 1530. His broth­er Hek­tor sold the city palace to Emper­or Fer­di­nand I in 1559 and he bequeathed it to his son Charles II, Arch­duke of Aus­tria (15401590).

His niece Arch­duchess Elis­a­beth of Aus­tria (1554 — 1592), the sec­ond old­est daugh­ter of Emper­or Max­i­m­il­ian II (15271576, Emper­or from 1564) and Mary of Spain (15281603), the daugh­ter of Emper­or Charles V (15001558) sub­se­quent­ly acquired it. 


Elis­a­beth grew up in a large group of sib­lings and like her broth­er, Emper­or Rudolf II, she received a very good edu­ca­tion, although her moth­er’s influ­ence was par­tic­u­lar­ly notice­able in her very strict reli­gious upbring­ing. Elis­a­beth rec­og­nized her call­ing to care for the poor and the sick at a young age, like her patron saint Elis­a­beth of Thuringia. 

As a young girl, and already cel­e­brat­ed as one of the most beau­ti­ful princess­es in Europe, Elis­a­beth was promised, as was cus­tom­ary at the time, to Charles, the sec­ond-born son of the French king Hen­ry II and Cather­ine de’ Medici. It was Cather­ine who want­ed to win this intel­li­gent and noble princess as a wife for her son. She start­ed the nego­ti­a­tions, which last­ed nine years, in 1561.

Karl IX Mannv on Elisabeth
Portrait of King Charles IX of France, 1566, by François Clouet (c. 1510 – 22 December 1572) Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
Elisabeth Farbe
Portrait of Elisabeth of Austria, c. 1571, by François Clouet Louvre

The wed­ding took place on Octo­ber 22, 1570 per procu­ram in Spey­er. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the French king was her uncle Arch­duke Fer­di­nand of Fur­ther Aus­tria, who, among oth­er things, was reward­ed with the world famous Saliera of Ben­venu­to Celli­ni, that is proud­ly exhib­it­ed in Vienna’s Kun­sthis­torische Muse­um today. 

HM Geschichte Saliera
The Saliera by Benvenuto Cellini with an allegory of earth and sea, is a significant work of art of the Renaissance. The famous salt barrel was made between 1540 and 1543 by order of King Francis I of France. King Charles IX finally gave the Saliera to Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol on the occasion of his marriage to Elisabeth.

The wed­ding of the 16-year-old Arch­duchess Elis­a­beth to the 20-year-old Charles IX, King of France, took place in Méz­ières in the Cham­pagne region. With her shiny ret­inue, the arch­duchess head­ed for Méz­ières. On the way there, her broth­er Charles, the Duke of Anjou, was wait­ing for her in Sedan to con­tin­ue the jour­ney togeth­er. King Charles IX was expect­ed to meet her in Méz­ières but was so curi­ous that it is said that he trav­elled to Sedan in dis­guise to secret­ly see Elis­a­beth. From the first moment he saw her he was enchant­ed by her beau­ty and grace. Charles was often quot­ed as hav­ing said that he not only had the purest, most vir­tu­ous wife in France and Europe, but in the whole world.

The coro­na­tion cer­e­mo­ny was held at the Basil­i­ca Cathe­dral of Saint Denis on March 25, 1571. The mar­riage led to the birth of their daugh­ter Marie Elis­a­beth (1572 – 1578). Through­out his life, King Charles IX was a men­tal­ly unsta­ble and influ­ence­able ruler, who was under the con­stant influ­ence of his moth­er Cather­ine. In order not to lose her influ­ence on the young king and to assert her­self against her adver­saries, Cather­ine forced him to agree to the scheme on the night of August 23, 1572, the so-called St. Bartholomew’s Day mas­sacre of the French Protes­tants. Elis­a­beth was kept away from any influ­ence on the young king by Charles’ moth­er and was not real­ly pro­fi­cient in the French lan­guage, the St. Bartholomew’s Day mas­sacre haunt­ed her for the rest of her life. 

The cat­a­stroph­ic deci­sions that led to the St. Bartholomew’s Day mas­sacre were kept secret from the young queen. When the news of what had hap­pened was brought to her, she asked with hor­ror: Does the king know, my hus­band?” And exclaimed: Who gave him such advice? For­give him, O God, and be gra­cious to him, oth­er­wise this sin will nev­er be for­giv­en.” Even Charles, who was already suf­fer­ing from tuber­cu­lo­sis at the time, was deeply hor­ri­fied by the events of that night and the days that fol­lowed. Charles died on May 30, 1574, at the age of 24, cared for by Elis­a­beth compassionately.

After Charles’ death, Elis­a­beth received a large num­ber of mar­riage pro­pos­als, all of which she declined in mem­o­ry of her roy­al hus­band. She focused her atten­tion on her daugh­ter, Marie Elis­a­beth, and a large num­ber of char­i­ta­ble projects. Fol­low­ing the death of her 5‑year-old daugh­ter, whom she had trans­ferred all her moth­er­ly care and love to, she returned to Vien­na alone. She was giv­en a fes­tive wel­come by her broth­er Emper­or Rudolf II

In 1582 she found­ed the Queen Monastery” or Monastery of the Angels” on the prop­er­ty acquired by her uncle and expand­ed by fur­ther invest­ment and dona­tions, to accom­mo­date 60 Claris­sans. From then on, it exist­ed as such for exact­ly 200 years until Joseph II abol­ished it due to the reforms. 

The "Queen Monastery" or "Monastery of the Angels", view from 1740

The monastery pre­served some reli­gious art trea­sures and relics dur­ing the 200 years of its exis­tence. The founder her­self was buried in the monastery church, built between 1582 and 1583, as well as the remains of Elis­a­beth’s broth­er Emper­or Matthias (1618) and his wife Anna (1619). With the con­se­cra­tion of the Impe­r­i­al Crypt in the Capuchin Monastery, found­ed by Empress Anna in 1963 and locat­ed at today’s Neuer Markt, the coffins were trans­ferred there in the pres­ence of Emper­or Fer­di­nand from the Queen Monastery. Since then, the hearts of the Hab­s­burgs have been kept sep­a­rate from their bod­ies and stored in sil­ver heart-shaped urns in the Heart Crypt of the Augus­tin­ian Church. 

On Jan­u­ary 22, 1592, Queen Elis­a­beth died at the age of 38. She was described by her con­tem­po­raries as dig­ni­fied, gen­er­ous, empa­thet­ic, with a strong sense of faith, patient and fear­ful of God, but not big­ot­ed. Fur­ther­more, as Bran­tome claimed, she loved her hus­band very much with­out being jeal­ous and for­gave him for his misdeeds.”

It is fair to say that Arch­duchess Elis­a­beth of Aus­tria, Queen of France, was one of the most gen­er­ous women of her time! She shared her entire wealth and income from France with the peo­ple who need­ed her sup­port. As a result, on the deci­sion of Emper­or Joseph II on Novem­ber 10, 1781 and by decree of Jan­u­ary 12, 1782, the Queen Monastery was abol­ished exact­ly 200 years after its foun­da­tion. As the prop­er­ty could not be sold in one due to its size, and it was not pos­si­ble to agree on the estab­lish­ment of a Hotel Gar­ni, it was divid­ed up and auc­tioned off. In the end, the Vien­nese Luther­an City Church acquired part and the reformed con­gre­ga­tion another.

Hotel Garni
Design Drawing of W. Beyers 1782 for a Hotel Garni, originally planned instead of the Palais Fries at Josefsplatz

The remain­ing prop­er­ty was acquired by Count Fries, a mem­ber of the Reformed parish, in order to build his city palace, the Palais Fries and lat­er Palais Pallavicini.

Johann Graf Fries by Alexander Roslin 1718 1793

Johann Fries (May 19, 1719 Mühlhausen, France — June 19, 1785 Bad Vös­lau, Low­er Aus­tria; Calvin­ist and from 1783 Impe­r­i­al count) came from a Swiss patri­cian fam­i­ly and was a coun­cilor of com­merce, privy coun­cilor, direc­tor of the Impe­r­i­al silk fac­to­ries, indus­tri­al­ist and banker. In 1757 he became a knight, in 1762 a baron, in 1771 a court coun­cilor and 1783 he was raised by Joseph II to Impe­r­i­al count. He was also a mem­ber of the Mason­ic Lodge. Dur­ing the War of the Aus­tri­an Suc­ces­sion, he worked extreme­ly suc­cess­ful­ly in the ser­vice of Aus­tria in the Eng­lish Com­mis­sary” and in 1748 was entrust­ed by Wen­zel, Prince of Kau­nitz-Riet­berg, with the del­i­cate task of bring­ing the out­stand­ing sub­sidy pay­ments of £100,000, which were denied in Eng­land, to Vien­na. He achieved this with fly­ing col­ors in dif­fi­cult nego­ti­a­tions last­ing over a year in Lon­don. As a result, Johann Fries was encour­aged to join the Aus­tri­an ser­vice, where­upon Maria There­sia freed him from Sta­ple Rights’ in Vien­na in 1751. In 1751, Fries found­ed var­i­ous fac­to­ries: fab­ric, vel­vet and silk fac­to­ries; a brass fac­to­ry, the Nurem­berg Brass Fac­to­ry”, and much more.

In 1752 he ini­ti­at­ed the Thalerne­goticum” — he received the priv­i­lege from Maria There­sia to mint the Maria There­sien thaler”, which he held from 1756 to 1776. Dur­ing this peri­od, he deliv­ered 20 mil­lion Maria There­sien thalers to the Ottoman Empire and the Lev­ant alone. Johann Fries made sure that the Maria There­sien thaler was rec­og­nized as a means of pay­ment from the Ori­ent to Africa. The share that he was allowed to with­hold was one third of the seignior­age, a whop­ping 33.3% of the net prof­it from the coin’s issue and by plac­ing it on the market. 

At that time, Baron Fries was one of the rich­est men of his time. Dur­ing the Sev­en Years’ War with Prus­sia, he man­aged the sub­sidy pay­ments from France of 30 mil­lion livres annu­al­ly, of which he was able to with­hold half a per­cent of com­mis­sions. Dur­ing these years Fries cam­paigned for the war finances and gave the state sig­nif­i­cant cash advances, which under­stand­ably gave him an even high­er sta­tus in the Impe­r­i­al family.

In 1766 Fries and his autho­rized sig­na­to­ry, Johann Jakob Baron von Gontard, found­ed the Fries & Co. bank. The Friesis­che Bank was by far the most impor­tant bank house of its time.

Reichsgräfinvon Fries Roslin
Imperial Countess von Fries, Countess Anna d`Escherny (1737-1807), by Alexander Roslin (1718-1793)

On August 29, 1764, Johann Fries mar­ried Anne d’Esch­erny, in Paris, who was from a rich Huguenot fam­i­ly. His first son Franz Josef Johannes was born on Sep­tem­ber 7th, 1765 and was chris­tened (an absolute nov­el­ty and com­pli­ment for the Calvin­ist Fries) in St. Stephen’s Cathe­dral in Vien­na. The god­par­ents were Empress Maria There­sa and her son Emper­or Joseph II who were rep­re­sent­ed by the Impe­r­i­al colonel that day.

Maria Theresia Meytens
Empress Maria Theresia, circa 1750/1765, by Martin van Meytens d. J. (1695 Stockholm – 1770 Vienna)  — Belvedere Vienna
Josef II
Emperor Joseph II (1741 – 1790) with the Statue of Mars, 1775, Anton von Maron (1733-1808)  — Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna

His first daugh­ter Ursu­la Mar­garetha Agnes Vic­to­ria Ludovi­ca was born on Feb­ru­ary 3rd, 1767 and he wel­comed anoth­er daugh­ter Anna Philip­pina Johan­na Sophia on August 11th, 1769. His sec­ond-born son, Moritz Chris­t­ian Johannes (I.), saw the light of day on May 6th1777.

In 1783 – 84 Fries com­mis­sioned J. Fer­di­nand Het­zen­dorf von Hohen­berg, the court archi­tect and cre­ator of the Glo­ri­ette and the Palace The­ater in Schön­brunn, to build his city palace. His new­ly acquired prop­er­ty at Josef­s­platz was to have its own the­ater salon, amongst oth­er features.

Fassademit4 Vasen
Drawing of for its simplicity criticized façade with the four vases of the Palais Fries 1783-1784 of E. Hanisch

Before that, Fries had already bought Vös­lau Cas­tle in 1761 and had it rebuilt by Het­zen­dorf and it had aroused admi­ra­tion in Vien­nese soci­ety. It was also he who brought the Blauer Por­tugieser grape to Bad Vös­lau in 1772 and was thus the founder of Vöslau’s impor­tance as a wine town. 

Because of archi­tect Het­zen­dorf, one of the most inter­est­ing and pure­ly clas­si­cal palace build­ings in Vien­na was built at Josef­s­platz. This build­ing, with its sim­ply designed façade, strik­ing­ly mod­ern in con­trast to the Hof­burg, caused quite a stir at the time.

IMG 4240

Only the changes from 1786, which empha­sized the design of the main gate, and the attic, which rep­re­sents the alle­gories of trade and free­dom, brought a last­ing change in the orig­i­nal sim­plic­i­ty and filled it with life. 

The four cary­atids (fig­ures) cre­at­ed by sculp­tor Franz Zauner, crowned by a blown-up gable, replaced the sim­ple por­tal, as well as the four stone vas­es, which stood for the four con­ti­nents (with­out Aus­tralia) had been met with great crit­i­cism. These mod­i­fi­ci­a­tions in the baroque style” was a con­ces­sion to one of the most beau­ti­ful, Vien­nese baroque squares. The vas­es, Fries then brought to the park of his cas­tle in Bad Vöslau.

Stich Reiter Josefsplatz
The equestrian statue of Josef II at the Josefsplatz, Engraving
Stich1 2
Facade of the Palais Pallavicini, Engraving

When the expen­sive con­struc­tion of Fries’ city palace was com­plet­ed, it became the cen­ter of Vien­nese soci­ety. Fries was also a patron and art col­lec­tor and his role as court and state banker also gave him access to the world of the arts. Baron Fries died on June 19, 1785 in cir­cum­stances that have nev­er been ful­ly clar­i­fied. Peo­ple spoke of melan­choly and depres­sion and found him drowned in the pond of his cas­tle in Vös­lau. A farewell let­ter was nev­er found.

His eldest son Franz Josef Johannes inher­it­ed the huge for­tune, which con­tin­ued to grow under the man­age­ment of his father’s busi­ness partners.

Franz Josef Johannes Kauffmann
Franz Josef Johannes, Count Fries, 1787, by Angelika Kauffmann  — Wien Museum

He him­self loved to trav­el, main­tained con­tact with the great artists and intel­lec­tu­als of his time, such as Johann Wolf­gang von Goethe, whom he met on a trip to Rome. Dur­ing his trav­els, he made impor­tant art pur­chas­es and com­mis­sioned work from out­stand­ing artists, such as Ange­li­ka Kauff­mann and Anto­nio Cano­va. In 1787 he brought the group stat­ue The­seus and Mino­taur” from Rome to his palace in Vien­na. The weight of this sculp­ture was about 1.2 tons.

Antonio Canova Theseus and the Minotaur Victoria and Albert Museum
Antonio Canova, Theseus and Minotaurus  — Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Today this group of fig­ures is owned by the Vic­to­ria & Albert Muse­um in Lon­don. With these pur­chas­es he laid the foun­da­tion for one of the most impor­tant art col­lec­tions in the Hab­s­burg Empire. Franz Josef Johannes Fries fell ill only three years after his father’s death and died in April 1788. His eleven-year-old broth­er Moritz von Fries inher­it­ed the sig­nif­i­cant fam­i­ly for­tune. His guardian­ship, which not only man­aged the fam­i­ly wealth, but also increased it, ensured he received an excel­lent edu­ca­tion. At the age of 20 he was intro­duced to his father’s bank­ing busi­ness and was involved in it from that point on.

In Octo­ber 1800 the dis­tin­guished Vien­nese soci­ety gath­ered for the splen­did wed­ding of Moritz von Fries with the enchant­i­ng Maria There­sia Jose­fa, née princess of Hohen­lo­he Walden­burg — Schlin­gen­fürst (1779 — 1819). The fes­tiv­i­ties went on for sev­er­al days. In the fol­low­ing years, Moritz expand­ed the already sig­nif­i­cant art col­lec­tion of his father and broth­er by mak­ing pur­chas­es across Europe and com­mis­sion­ing impor­tant artists of the time.

Gräfin Friesmit Kindern Abel
Portrait of Countess Fries with three of her older children, 1811, by Josef Abel  — Germanisches Nationalmuseum
Moritz Christina Friesmit Frau
Moritz Christian Imperial Count von Fries with his wife Maria Theresia Josepha, born Princess Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst, and her son Moritz around 1805, François Pascal Simon Gérard (1770 Rome – 1837 Paris)  — Belvedere Vienna

The fam­i­ly’s col­lec­tion had 300 paint­ings, includ­ing paint­ings by Rem­brandt, Van Dyck, Raf­fael, Reni, Dür­er, and 100,000 engrav­ings and draw­ings. With 16,000 vol­umes, the coun­t’s library was also one of the largest in the Hab­s­burg Empire. Fur­ther­more, the house was home to an impor­tant col­lec­tion of sculp­tures, includ­ing works by Cano­va, and an exten­sive col­lec­tion of coins and min­er­als. At around 1800, the Fries estate had grown to 2.5 mil­lion guilders, which made the Impe­r­i­al Count Moritz von Fries the rich­est man in the Aus­tri­an monar­chy. The palace at Josef­s­platz became the cen­ter of social and cul­tur­al life in Vien­na. The count invit­ed artists and schol­ars from many gen­res to his home, was an hon­orary mem­ber of the Acad­e­my of Fine Arts, a found­ing mem­ber of the Soci­ety of Friends of Music and patron­ized many artists of the time.

Fries patron­ized com­posers like Franz Schu­bert — who ded­i­cat­ed the Gretchen am Spin­nrade from Goethe’s Faust” to him in 1814- Joseph Haydn and par­tic­u­lar­ly Lud­wig van Beethoven. Beethoven ded­i­cat­ed his 7th sym­pho­ny in A major, op. 92 (1812), the so-called Fries Sym­pho­ny, as well as the A minor vio­lin sonata op. 23 (1801), and the F major vio­lin sonata op. 24 (“Spring Sonata”, 1802) to him.

So-called "Festfassade," (designed by renowned artists who created facades for special occasions, often just used for one day) of the Palais Fries for the 16th of June 1814 for the triumphal entry of Franz I. in the Imperial Capital; on the occasion of the peace treaty of the successful alliance between the King of Preußen, the Czar of Russland and the Austrian Emperor after Napoleon's abdication on the 11th of April 1814  — Engraving, from the „Denkbuch für Fürst und Vaterland“ 1814

There were many soirees, lav­ish balls and con­certs in Fries’ home, where the most impor­tant artists of the day shook hands. One par­tic­u­lar­ly spe­cial night at Fries’, in May 1800, Lud­wig von Beethoven and the com­pos­er Daniel Got­tlieb Steibelt met. It result­ed in a piano com­pe­ti­tion between the two, and Steibelt, known for his vir­tu­os­i­ty, lost. This scan­dal sub­se­quent­ly led to the ter­mi­na­tion of Steibelt’s tour in Ger­man-speak­ing countries. 

The sud­den descent of the Fries house began in 1817. The many trips and pos­ses­sions, the feu­dal lifestyle, and the great deval­u­a­tion of the Napoleon­ic Wars all con­tributed to the decline of this glam­orous house. In August 1819, Maria There­sia Josepha, the moth­er of his six chil­dren, died at the age of 41. Fries sub­se­quent­ly mar­ried the French dancer Fan­ny Lom­bard, with whom he had a daughter.

All attempts to counter the finan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties through sales, as well as through new invest­ments, such as the expan­sion of Vös­lau into a ther­mal bath, were unsuc­cess­ful. From 1820 Fries sold a lot of his land off, such as to the Prince of Licht­en­stein. Then, in 1823, the valu­able art col­lec­tion was auc­tioned off and dis­trib­uted around the world. In 1824, his son Moritz II, along with part­ner David Parish, took over the heav­i­ly indebt­ed bank, end­ing in Parish com­mit­ting sui­cide due to the hope­less sit­u­a­tion. In April 1826, the bank­rupt­cy of the Fries bank was declared, pro­vid­ing a top­ic of con­ver­sa­tion for Euro­pean soci­ety. In the fol­low­ing years, the count retired com­plete­ly from pri­vate life in an attempt to pre­serve a small sense of lux­u­ry and trav­el by sell­ing his per­son­al assets. On Decem­ber 26, 1826, Impe­r­i­al Count Fries died alone and poor, away from fam­i­ly and friends, in a Paris hotel. The bril­liant rise and the trag­ic fall of Count Fries is said to have been the mod­el for Fer­di­nand Raimund’s main char­ac­ter Flot­twell” in The Wasters”.

In 1828 his son Moritz Fries II was com­pelled to sell the palace to his com­peti­tor, Count Georg Simon von Sina (1783 — 1856), Baron von Hodos und Kis­dia, who, like the Roth­schild fam­i­ly, was one of the most impor­tant bankers and entrepreneurs.

Georg Simon von Sina came from an impor­tant Greek Ortho­dox fam­i­ly of cot­ton mer­chants and invest­ed in tobac­co busi­ness­es, riv­er ship­ping, rail­ways, bridge con­struc­tion (chain bridge over the Danube between Buda and Pest with his friend Count Stephan Széchenyi), the Neusiedler paper mill, and much more.

Sina Senior
Baron Georg Simon von Sina, 1854, Lithograph by August Prinzhofer

He was also deputy gov­er­nor of the Aus­tri­an Nation­al Bank. In the 1840s, the Sina bank was one of the most impor­tant along­side Roth­schild and Arn­stein & Eske­les. The com­mer­cial rela­tions between the whole­sale trade and Sina Bank, extend­ed from Vien­na to the main trade cen­ters of Europe, such as Paris, Lon­don, Rome, but also to Odessa (Ode­sa), Cairo, Alexan­dria and even to India. Gain­ing a Hun­gar­i­an title (1818), as well as an Aus­tri­an knight­hood (1826) and being a baron (1832) were also impor­tant for Sina. From 1834 – 1856 Sina was the Greek con­sul gen­er­al in Vien­na and in 1845 he financed, among oth­er things, the obser­va­to­ry in Athens. He also financed the ren­o­va­tion of the Greek church by Theophil Hansen (18131891) at the Fleis­chmarkt in Vienna.

Sina had already bought a palace in Vien­na in 1810, at Hohen Markt No. 8, which his son Georg Simon Sina the Younger demol­ished in 185960 in order to com­mis­sion Theophil Hansen with the new build­ing. The build­ing was lat­er bombed in 1945 and burned down com­plete­ly short­ly after. Baron Georg Simon von Sina (1783 — 1856) grant­ed gen­er­ous loans to the impe­r­i­al fam­i­ly dur­ing the Napoleon­ic Wars. He was also con­sid­ered the largest landown­er in Hun­gary and had fur­ther assets in Bohemia and Moravia. Due to the high liq­uid­i­ty of the bank, a lot of mon­ey was not only invest­ed in the pur­chase of land, but also in the pur­chase of real estate. As this was not allowed for Jews in Hun­gary, it gave the Sina fam­i­ly a sig­nif­i­cant lead over their Jew­ish competition. 

At that time, Baron Georg Simon von Sina was the largest tax­pay­er after the Roth­schild fam­i­ly in Aus­tria. Sina was the one who brought Theophil Hansen (18131891) to Vien­na. Lat­er, he was to become one of the most impor­tant archi­tects to build on the Ringstrasse. 

Theophil Hansen Litho
Theophil Hansen, 1880, Lithograph by Josef Bauer

Georg von Sina left a for­tune of around 50 mil­lion guilders after his death. 

Georg Simon von Sina Jüngere
Son Georg Simon Sina The Younger (1810 – 1876)

In 1842 his son Georg Simon Sina the Younger final­ly sold the palace at Josef­s­platz to Alfons Pallavici­ni (18071875).


The Pallavici­ni fam­i­ly belonged to the Ital­ian aris­toc­ra­cy. Orig­i­nat­ing in north­ern Italy, the name von Pallavici­ni” was first men­tioned in doc­u­ments through Mar­grave Ober­tus Pallavici­ni (11121116). He was able to com­bine his estates, which were between Par­ma and Pia­cen­za, into Sta­to Pallavici­ni”. They were lat­er assigned to the Duchy of Parma. 

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the many influ­en­tial and out­stand­ing per­son­al­i­ties, a mem­ber of the Genoese fam­i­ly branch, should also be men­tioned here. Agosti­no Palavici­ni (15771649), the Doge of Genoa and ambas­sador of the Holy See, mas­ter­ly por­trayed by Antho­ny Van Dyck — the oil paint­ing is now part of the Get­ty Muse­um collection.

A Pallavicini Van Dyck
Portrait of Agostino Pallavicini, by A. van Dyck (1599-1641), about 1621; "Agostino Pallavicini sits enveloped by the sumptuous, flowing red robes worn in his role as ambassador to the pope. The wide expanse of fabric, spectacularly rendered, seems to have a life of its own and almost threatens to take over the painting. The luxurious swirl of cloth, its brilliant sheen, and the way it glimmers and reflects light display Anthony van Dyck's virtuosity as a painter. The family coat of arms seen on the drapery behind the sitter at the left, along with other documented portraits, firmly establishes Pallavicini's identity." This work is documented by the author Giovanni Pietro Bellori, who in 1672 describes van Dyck's stay in Genua. The painting might have been one of his first work after his arrival  — © Getty Museum

In the sec­ond half of the 18th cen­tu­ry, Gian­car­lo Pallavici­ni (17411789) cre­at­ed a line of the Pallavici­ni fam­i­ly in the Aus­tri­an ter­ri­to­ry. His uncle Gian­lu­ca Pallavici­ni (16971773) entered the Vien­nese court as a diplo­mat­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Genoa to nego­ti­ate the dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion in Cor­si­ca at that time. In 1733 he final­ly entered the Aus­tri­an Impe­r­i­al ser­vice and in the years that fol­lowed, he dis­tin­guished him­self in var­i­ous polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary func­tions. It was also he who orga­nized the first navy on behalf of the Impe­r­i­al fam­i­ly. In 1749 Gian­lu­ca Pallavici­ni was appoint­ed as the com­mand­ing gen­er­al in Italy and in 1754 as the gen­er­al field mar­shal. He was sub­se­quent­ly award­ed the Gold­en Fleece for his ser­vices to the Hab­s­burg fam­i­ly and he was appoint­ed pres­i­dent of the Milan Coun­cil. In 1768 he was entrust­ed with the hon­or­able task of accom­pa­ny­ing the Arch­duchess Maria Car­oli­na on her trip to Sici­ly, which clear­ly high­lights the rep­u­ta­tion he had acquired over the years. Gian­lu­ca, who became patron of the arts, found his last home in Bologna.

In the year 1770 he sup­port­ed the Mozart fam­i­ly and held a lav­ish par­ty to their hon­or in his city palace at 28 Via Aure­lio Saf­fi. It was he who gave them valu­able con­tact with Car­di­nal Laz­zaro Pallavici­ni in Rome.

Giancarlo Pallavicini
Giancarlo Pallavicini (1741 – 1789)  — Family Archive Pallavicini

His nephew, Gian­car­lo Pallavici­ni (17411789) and founder of the Aus­tri­an line, fol­lowed in his foot­steps in the sec­ond half of the 18th cen­tu­ry. He was involved in many bat­tles for the Aus­tri­an Impe­r­i­al fam­i­ly, for which he received numer­ous awards and pro­mo­tions. On May 1, 1773, he was appoint­ed as supreme com­man­dant of the Pallavici­ni Reg­i­ment and the most notable bat­tles in which he was involved were those against the Ottoman Empire.

At the end of his career he was appoint­ed as the head of Arch­duke Karl Stephan’s 8th Infantry Reg­i­ment, where he fought the Turks for the last time and suc­cumbed to injury.

Infanterie Uniform
Uniform of the Infantry Regiment Pallavicini  — Family Archive Pallavicini

Eduard Pallavici­ni (17871839) sub­se­quent­ly ele­vat­ed the posi­tion of the Pallavici­ni fam­i­ly through the pur­chase of Hun­gar­i­an assets and was award­ed Hun­gar­i­an cit­i­zen­ship and nobil­i­ty rights in 1803, as well as the Bohemi­an and Mora­vian rights and the Fideikom­miss in the Aus­tri­an Hered­i­tary Lands. Mar­riages with mem­bers of influ­en­tial fam­i­lies from the Aus­tri­an Hered­i­tary Lands, such as Zichy, Széchenyi, Hard­egg or Fürsten­berg, also strength­ened the Pallavici­ni fam­i­ly’s posi­tion in the Hab­s­burg Empire.

Aloys Nikolaus Ambros M Ann von Irene Pallavicini
Aloys Nikolaus Ambros Count of Arco-Steppberg, Royal Chamberlain and later Knight Commander of the Bavarian Order of Saint George
Irene Marchesa Pallavicini Frau von Aloys Nikolaus
Irene, Marchesa Pallavicini (1811-1877), the 23 years old Countess Arco-Steppberg in festive garments and magnificent family jewelry; daughter of Marquis Eduard de Pallavicini and Josephine, born Countess Hardegg-Glatz. Irene was Court Lady in Munich. She got married to Aloys Nikolaus Ambros Count of Arco-Steppberg in 1836.

In 1842 Alfons sen. Pallavici­ni (18071875) final­ly bought the palace at Josef­s­platz from Baron von Sina and had it rebuilt and mod­ern­ized in 1842 – 45 in the style of the sec­ond Roco­co. The cer­e­mo­ni­al and ball rooms were redesigned in 1843 by the archi­tect Franz Beer in the neo-roco­co style.

HM Alfons Sen Kriehuber
Margrave Alfons sen. Pallavicini, 1837, Lithograph by Josef Kriehuber

Alfons sen. Pallavici­ni also received the mar­grave title in the Aus­tri­an ter­ri­to­ry in 1868. He was also a mem­ber of the upper house of the Hun­gar­i­an par­lia­ment, k.u.k. com­man­der and secret coun­cilor, mem­ber of the Order of Mal­ta, the Order of the Gold­en Fleece and Knight of the Order of the Iron Crown. Mar­grave Alexan­der sen. Pallavici­ni (18531933) sub­se­quent­ly inher­it­ed the palace from his father Alfon­so in 1873.

Markgraf Alexander Pallavicini
Markgrave Alexander Pallavicini, 1892, Engraving

In the same year he had the stair­case of the palace and the entrance area remod­eled in the style of his­tori­cism and the stair­wells fur­nished with Impe­r­i­al stone. 

The staircase of the Palais Pallavicini still with the 3rd floor before the modification of the state rooms in the 19th century
The staircase in the entrance area of the Palais in the ground floor

Mar­grave Alexan­der sen. Pallavici­ni was also a mem­ber of the upper house in the Hun­gar­i­an par­lia­ment, k.u.k. com­man­der and secret coun­cilor, mem­ber of the Order of Mal­ta, the Order of the Gold­en Fleece and Knight of the Order of the Iron Crown. 

In June 1876 he mar­ried the lady of the palace and bear­er of the Star Cross Order, Irma Count­ess Széchényi (18551932) and had three sons with her, Karl, Alfons and Alexan­der jun. Pallavicini. 

HM Hochzeit
Wedding of Margrave Alexander Pallavicini with Irma (1855 - 1932)
HM Irmamit Krug
Countess Irma Széchényi  — Family Archive Pallavicini

The state rooms of Palais Pallavici­ni have always been a place of fes­tive and cul­tur­al activ­i­ties. The salons reflect the baroque joie de vivre artists and the who is who” of Vien­nese soci­ety at the time came and went, and lav­ish fes­tiv­i­ties were celebrated.

HM Markgraf Pallavicinihöfische Kleidung
Margrave Pallavicini in splendid courtly attire  — Painting from the Family Estate Pallavicini
Festsaal Pallavicini
The state room of the Palais Pallavicini then
Festsaal Farbe istnoch Screenshot
and today  — Family Archive Pallavicini

The Pallavici­ni fam­i­ly has owned the palace for over 150 years. It was Mar­grave Karl Pallavici­ni, the father of the cur­rent own­ers of the palace, Alfon­so and Eduar­do Pallavici­ni, who brought the palace through the tur­moil of the Sec­ond World War and thus ensured the preser­va­tion of the palace until the 21st century. 

As one of the last fam­i­ly-owned city palaces, it is still lov­ing­ly cared for and main­tained by the family.

Karl Markgraf Pallavicini
Margrave Karl Pallavicini (1923 – 2004) with the Díszmagyar, a ceremonial gown, initially only worn by the aristocracy in Hungary, later also by people of public affairs

Even in the 20th cen­tu­ry, both the inter­na­tion­al aris­toc­ra­cy and high soci­ety were guests at lav­ish events, such as the Shah of Per­sia or Jacky Kennedy who met Mrs. Khrushchev at a lun­cheon held in their hon­or at the Palais Pallavici­ni in 1961. The Pres­i­den­tial Muse­um in Boston show­cas­es a pho­to­graph with fol­low­ing charm­ing quote of Jacky Kennedy: Mrs. Khrushchev was very shy at the palace (Pallavici­ni) in Vien­na where we had lunch. There was this pro­to­col thing. For some rea­son, I out­ranked her because Jack was Pres­i­dent and Khrushchev was just Chair­man (of the Coun­cil of Ministers)…so she would­n’t leave the room before I did. And I did­n’t like to go before an old­er woman and…she was so hang­ing back, and…finally I said — in des­per­a­tion I took her by the hand and said, well, I’m very shy so you’ll have to come with me.”

Jacky Kennedy Capa Magnum
Jacky Kennedy and Nina Khrushchev at a lunch reception at Palais Pallavicini in June 1961  — © Cornell Capa © Magnum Photos/International Center of Photography
Jack Kennedy1
Nikita Khrushchev, Jacky Kennedy und Martha Kyrle
HM Einladung Schah
Invitation of S.M.I., the Shah of Persia, to a Reception in the Palais

Many ele­gant cel­e­bra­tions, wed­dings and recep­tions are still held in the mag­nif­i­cent ballrooms.

Festsaal Chopard Event HM
Decorated state room for the Gala reception of Chopard and art dealer Hans Miedler at Palais Pallavicini

From the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tu­ry, the palace in down­town Vien­na also served as a film set for inter­na­tion­al and Aus­tri­an cin­e­ma and tele­vi­sion films. 

One of the most impor­tant films in post-war his­to­ry was shot here, The Third Man”. This bril­liant spy movie, that was pro­duced in Great Britain in 1949, based on the screen­play by Gra­ham Greene and direct­ed by Car­ol Reed, star­ring Orson Welles, Joseph Cot­ten, Paul Hör­biger, Anni Rosar and music with which it became world famous by Anton Karas. 

HM 3 Mann
Scene from The Third Man at the entrance of the Palais Pallavicini
HM Hörbiger
Scene with the actor Paul Hörbiger in the staircase at Palais Pallavicini

Awards and nom­i­na­tions were: 

Inter­na­tion­al Cannes Film Fes­ti­val 1949

Grand Prix British Film Acad­e­my Award 1950

Best British film

Best Film nomination

Acad­e­my Awards 1951

Oscar in the cat­e­go­ry Best Black and White Cam­era to Robert Krasker

Nom­i­na­tions in the cat­e­gories Best Direc­tor and Best Editor

Romy Schneider Der Kardinal
Romy Schneider in „The Cardinal"

More recent awards include:

2013 The Dev­il’s Vio­lin­ist” about Nic­colò Pagani­ni direct­ed by Bern­hard Rose with David Garrett

Paginini Kind
Scene from the movie about Paganini, „Devil's Violinist“ in our now renovated Showrooms in the Beletage
David Garrett as Paganini with his "Devil Violin"

2016 the film Das Sach­er” about Anna Sach­er by the Aus­tri­an direc­tor Robert Dornhelm

Scenes from the movie „Das Sacher“ with protagonist Ursula Krauss in the Entrée of the Palais Pallavicini

2019 Vien­na Blood” direct­ed by Robert Dorn­helm and Umut Dag

Vienna Blood
Scene from „Vienna Blood“ with left Luise von Finckh, right Amelia Bullmore in the Marble room of the Palais Pallavicini

I would like to end my jour­ney through time with the words of a con­tem­po­rary wit­ness of Princess Nora Fug­ger from her biog­ra­phy In the Splen­dor of the Impe­r­i­al Age”: 

But no one should believe that I thought of all these cer­tain­ly very inter­est­ing his­tor­i­cal things when we — as always,

the last ones — entered the won­der­ful dance hall of the Palais Pallavicini.

Mar­grave San­dor Pallavici­ni and his wife gra­cious­ly made the honors. 

Mar­gravine Irma was one of the most impres­sive fig­ures in Vienna.

With her stun­ning fam­i­ly jew­el­ry and her splen­did shape, she impressed every­one who entered.

The cel­e­bra­tions in the palace at Josef­s­platz were par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­u­lar. Every­thing oozed sophis­ti­cat­ed elegance .…..”

Irma Pallaviciniganzunten
Countess Irma Pallavicini (Széchényi), wife of Alexander sen. Pallavicini  — From the Family Estate Pallavicini


Steeb, Chris­t­ian. Die Grafen von Fries“, Hrsg. Stadt­ge­meinde Vös­lau 1999 (auf Grund­lage der gle­ich­nami­gen Dis­ser­ta­tion des Autors Die Grafen von Fries. Eine Schweiz­er Fam­i­lie und ihre wirtschaft­spoli­tis­che und kul­turhis­torische Bedeu­tung für Öster­re­ich zwis­chen 1750 und 1830“)

Roth, Franz Otto: Zur feier­lichen Besitzüber­nahme von Deutsch­lands­berg, Feil­hofen, Frauen­tal und St. Andrä im Sausal anno 1812.“ (Zeitschrift des his­torischen Vere­ines LXII Jg. Graz 1971)

Otru­ba, Gus­tav: Fries, Moritz Graf von“, in: Neue Deutsche Biogra­phie (NDB). Band 5, Dunck­er & Hum­blot, Berlin 1961, S. 606 

Fries, Moritz Chris­t­ian Graf. In: Öster­re­ichis­ches Biographis­ches Lexikon 1815 – 1950 (ÖBL). Band 1, Ver­lag der Öster­re­ichis­chen Akademie der Wis­senschaften, Wien 1957, S. 367.

Czeike, Felix: Wien. Kun­st und Kul­tur-Lexikon. Stadt­führer und Hand­buch“, Süd­deutsch­er Ver­lag München 1976, S. 87

Czeike, Felix: Wien. Innere Stadt. Kun­st- und Kul­tur­führer“, Wien: Jugend und Volk, Ed. Wien, Dachs-Ver­lag 1993, S. 98

Har­rer-Lucien­feld, Paul: Wien, seine Häuser, Men­schen und Kul­tur. Band 6, 2. Teil“, Wien 1957 (Manuskript im WSt­LA), S. 313 – 315; 321 f.

Schmidt, Justus/​Tiet­ze, Hans: Dehio Wien. Wien: A. Schroll 1954 (Bun­des­denkmalamt: Die Kun­st­denkmäler Öster­re­ichs), S. 77 f.

Kobald, Karl: Klas­sis­che Musik­stät­ten“, Zürich/​Leipzig/​Wien Amalthea — Verl.

1929, S. 105 ff.

Blauen­stein­er, Kurt: Ger­ards Bild­nis des Reichs­grafen Fries“, in: Jahrbuch des Vere­ins für Geschichte der Stadt Wien, 1939 – 1989 Band 2, 1940, S. 121 ff.

Markl, Hans: Kennst du alle berühmten Gedenkstät­ten Wiens?“ Wien [u.a.]: Pechan 1959 (Per­len­rei­he, 1008), S. 41

Kisch, Wil­helm: Die alten Straßen und Plätze von Wiens Vorstädten und ihre his­torisch inter­es­san­ten Häuser“, Pho­to­mechan. Wieder­gabe d. Ausg. v. 1883, Cosen­za: Bren­ner 1967, Band 1, S. 264ff.

Gugitz, Gus­tav: Bib­li­ogra­phie zur Geschichte und Stadtkunde von Wien“, Hg. vom Vere­in für Lan­deskunde von Niederöster­re­ich und Wien. Band 3: All­ge­meine und beson­dere Topogra­phie von Wien“, Wien: Jugend & Volk 1956, 340f. (Fries­palais)

Salz­er, Monika/​Karner, Peter: Vom Christ­baum zur Ringstraße. Evan­ge­lis­ches Wien“, 2., verbesserte Auflage, Wien 2009, S. 68 – 70 


Pulle, Thomas: Unter­suchun­gen zum Palais Fries am Josef­s­platz, im Kun­sthis­torischen Insti­tut Wien, Auf­nah­mear­beit, ein­gere­icht im Win­terse­mes­ter 198788

Clary-Dar­lem (Mme.), Elis­a­beth d’Autriche, reine de France (Paris et Leipzig 1847, 8°.). – Papyre-Mas­son (Jean), Entiérs dis­cours des choses qui se sont passées à la récep­tion de la reine et mariage de Charles IX. (Paris 1574, auch 1615, 8°.). – Pinart (Louis), Ver­i­ta­ble dis­cours du mariage de très-haut, très puis­sant et très-chré­tien roi Charles IX. et de la très excel­lent et vertueuse princesse, madame Elis­a­beth, fille de l’empereur Max­im­i­lien II. fait et célébré à Méz­ières le 26me jour de Novem­bre 1570 (Paris 1570, Fol.) [wiederge­druckt im Cer­e­mo­ni­al de France“ von Theodor Gode­froy (Paris 1649, Fol.) Bd. II, p. 20]. – Mar­tonne (Alfred de), Isabelle d’Autriche (Paris 1848, 8°.). – Dis­cours de la vie de la reine Isabelle, fille de l’empereur Max­im­i­lien (Paris 1592, 8°.). – Außer den bish­er ange­führten selb­st­ständi­gen Quellen sind noch zu nen­nen: Bran­tôme, Vie des Dames illus­tres. Aus­gabe von Mon­merqué. – De Thou (J.), His­to­ri­arum sui tem­po­ris lib­ri CXXXVII, im XLV. und XLVI­II. Buche. – Fontette et Lelong, Bib­lio­theque his­torique de la France, tom. II, part. 3me., chap. 4, art. 2 – 3; – chap. 7, art. 7, pag. 20, 702, 713, 717, 837. – Cape­figue, Mémoires des Reines et Regentes de France. Tome Vme.


Samm­lung von Bildern, Videos und Audiodateien

Bildquelle Tor des Palais : Wil­helm Kitsch Wien Got­tlieb 1883 

Ben­venu­to Celli­ni Salz­fass, sog. Saliera”, hergestellt 1540 – 1543 in Paris. Gold, teil­weise email­liert; Sock­el: Eben­holz. Heute im Kun­sthis­torischen Muse­um Wien

Por­trait Lith­o­gra­phie von Frei­herr von Sina: von Kauf­mann Han­del — http://​www​.bil​darchivaus​tria​.at/​P​a​g​e​s​/​I​m​a​g​e​D​e​t​a​i​l​.​a​s​p​x​?​p​_​i​B​i​l​d​I​D​=​8150849, Geme­in­frei, https://​com​mons​.wiki​me​dia​.org/…

Ste­hende Lith­o­gr. Von Frei­herr von Sina Von August Prinzhofer — Eigenes Foto ein­er Orig­i­nal­lith­o­gra­phie (N.G.Graz), Foto: Peter Gey­may­er, geme­in­frei, https://​com​mons​.wiki​me​dia​.org/…

Fam­il­yarchive Pallavicini