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Babenberg Family Tree

the fascinating history of the famed dynasty

When Leopold III of the Babenbergs is canonised on January 6, 1485 by Pope Innocent VIII, it is felt that the saint and his family should be made more accessible to the people. And so it is that scholar Ladislaus Sunthaymreceives the task of compiling a monumental Babenberg family history from the provost at Klosterneuburg Monastery, Jakob Paperl. At the same time, a painting is to be created to illustrate it.

The project is started in 1489 and completed in 1492 and involves at least 3 artists. Hans Part is one according to records. The centre piece of the triptych shows the male members of the Babenberg family on 27 round paintings. What is remarkable is that they appear in scenes from their lives rather than in solo portraits. On the left and right side wings of the family tree the female members of the family are shown as half figures growing out of husks.

The work is initially hung in the cloister near Leopold’s tomb. This suggests that it was not intended as a retable – at 8m x 3.4m it’s simply too high for the cloister.

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