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The Vieux-Laque Room was remodelled by Maria Theresa as a memorial room to her beloved husband, Franz Stephan, who died unexpectedly in 1765. Black lacquer panels from Peking were set into the walnut wainscoting and embellished with gold frames. After Franz Stephan‘s death, Maria Theresa wore mourning for the rest of her life. A note was found in the empress’s prayer book after her death on which she had noted the length of her happy marriage, right down to the precise number of hours. Maria Theresa also commissioned three paintings for this room: in the middle is a portrait of Franz Stephan by Pompeo Batoni, who also painted the double portrait of Joseph II and his brother Leopold which was done in Rome in 1769. On the table in front of Joseph, who is standing on the right, lies a copy of Montesquieu’s Esprit des lois, one of the key works of the Enlightenment. The ideas of the Enlightenment underlay all the young emperor’s endeavours and reforms.
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