A Gesamtkunstwerk or total work of art from the Baroque age, the Austrian National Library’s State Hall – the former imperial court library – is considered the world’s most beautiful library hall. Emperor Charles VI commissioned the construction of this gem of profane Baroque architecture for his own court library. The State Hall was built between 1723 and 1726 based on plans by court architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and his son, Joseph Emanuel. The magnificent ceiling frescoes by the hand of Daniel Gran were completed in 1730.

The frescoes of the entrance wing (‘Wing of War’) deal with secular and martial themes. In the ‘Wing of Peace’ at the rear, which connects to the Hofburg and from where the emperor and the imperial household originally accessed the structure, the depictions show allegorical scenes related to the heavens and peace. The fresco in the dome represents an apotheosis of Charles VI, the initiator of the court library, featuring an allegory of its erection. The four splendid Baroque globes installed in the central oval were made by Vincenzo Coronelli (1650–1718). Together with the marble statues by the brothers Peter and Paul Strudel and the walnut bookcases, they form an authentic image of an eighteenth-century universal library of the Baroque.

Among the approximately 200,000 books kept in the State Hall is the personal library of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736), which comprises some 15,000 volumes and is installed in the central oval.

The room is 80 metres long and 34 metres wide.

(c) Österreichische Nationalbibliothek