March 6 – May 3, 2015

In 2015, the University of Vienna is celebrating 650 years of its existence. It is one of the oldest universities in Europe: older than any other in the German-speaking realm. In their joint exhibition “Vienna 1365. Creating a University”, the University of Vienna and the Austrian National Library will show over a hundred unique objects from the the “Alma Mater Rudolphina’s” eventful first years from the Middle Ages to the Humanist era.

The exhibition will show the founding letter of March 12, 1365 with Duke Rudolph’s signature in his own hand as well as valuable treasures from the university’s early years, such as the gilded silver faculty of arts sceptre. Another highlight are valuable works by mediaeval scholars, often elaborately illustrated by illuminators. They document a remarkable success story: contemporary “top scholars” such as Johann von Gmunden and Georg Peuerbach taught at Vienna soon after the university’s foundation, drawing in students from across Europe. Numerous loans from monastery libraries, archives and museums include one of the most significant portraits in the history of art: the first Western (three quarter view) full face portrait. It depicts Duke Rudolph IV, who invented the title by which he described himself in the caption in order to raise his rank: They document a remarkable success story: contemporary “Rudolfus Archidux Austrie”. The portrait is on loan from the Vienna Dommuseum for the last time on the occasion of this exhibition in honour of “his” university’s anniversary.

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