Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria (Wiener Neustadt January 5, 1614 -Vienna November 20, 1662), was a military commander, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands from 1647 to 1656, and a patron of the arts. He is also known as Leopold Wilhelm von Habsburg, but as a son of the Archduke of Austria he carried the title Archduke of Austria.

Patron of the arts

When he assumed the government of the Spanish Netherlands, Leopold Wilhelm, being a great lover of art, employed several painters from the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke, including the great Flemish painter David Teniers the Younger, who he not only employed as a painter but as keeper of the collection of pictures he was then forming. With the rank and title of "ayuda de camara," Teniers took up his abode in Brussels shortly after 1647. Immense sums were spent in the acquisition of paintings for the archduke, including paintings by Frans Snyders, Pieter Snayers, Daniel Seghers, Peter Franchoys, Frans Wouters, Jan van den Hoecke, Pieter Thijs, and others. A number of valuable works of the Italian masters, now in the Vienna Museum, came from Leopold's gallery after having belonged to Charles I and the duke of Buckingham. He commissioned the British painter John Michael Wright to travel to Cromwell's England, and acquire art and artefacts.

When Leopold returned to Vienna, the pictures also travelled to Austria, and a Flemish priest, himself a first-rate flower painter, Van der Baren, became keeper of the archducal gallery. Leopold bequeathed his gallery to his nephew Leopold I, and it became imperial property. It is now part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

When the tomb of Childeric I, an early Merovingian king of the Salian Franks and father of Clovis I was discovered in 1653 (May 27) by a mason doing repairs in the church of Saint-Brice in Tournai, it was Leopold Wilhelm who had the find published in Latin.




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