Matthew Rampley has recently published his book The Vienna School of Art History: Empire and the Politics of Scholarship, 1847-1918 with Penn State University Press.
The University of Vienna was a crucial institution where art history as an academic discipline first developed, and the book examines the work of the art historians who formed what has since become known as the ‘Vienna School’ of art historical writing. An important part of the book is consideration of the political dimensions to their work art. The first professorship in art history in Vienna was set up by the imperial government of Austria-Hungary as a way of promoting patriotic sentiments in the visual arts, but in the other major cities of the empire, such as Prague, Budapest, Cracow, Zagreb and L’viv, art historians became entangled in attempts by local national minorities of Austria-Hungary to assert a separate identity. The book analyses how art historical writing was caught up in the tug of war between Vienna, the imperial capital, and these outlying cities, looking at how it impacted on debates on topics such as modern art, the baroque, folk art, national traditions, monument protection, Islamic art and the idea of Austrian art.