'Habsburgs loved their animals. As we do today. They're no different than us. They went to great lengths, to get their horses, dogs, cheetahs, their elephants... and that's always fun. I want to make history fun, inspiring, and alive. It doesn't have to just be wars and politics. These people had lives. They had their loves; and their children. So how can we make that, and their documents, interesting? We need history; as much as we want to be always grounded in the future, flying off into space; I think we need to understand the past, to look at the present. At least that's been my philosophy.'
–Annemarie Jordan Gschwend
For the fourteenth episode of 'Dutch Art & Design Today', I sat down with Annemarie Jordan Gschwend; a specialist in the Habsburg dynasty, the history of their art and art collections, and a pioneer in studying Habsburg women. Annemarie studied at George Washington University in D.C., where she completed her BA in art history and French, and her MA in art history, focusing on Portuguese royal history. She then wrote her dissertation at Brown University, on the collection of Catherine of Austria, Queen of Portugal. During the 1970s she studied in France, and in the 1980s while a student, received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Lisbon, where she undertook archival research and deepened her interest in the history of the Habsburgs. Annemarie completed her dissertation in Switzerland, where she has been based since rthe 1980s, and has since gone on to curate and contribute to numerous exhibits and their catalogues, and her vast depth of knowledge in hers fields, is truly astonishing.
In this detailed talk, Annemarie retraces her childhood and how her parents emigrated to the USA from Europe—and revisits her memories of being a child going up in San Francisco. Her parents spoke numerous languages at home, exposing her to the world beyond English, and her mom encouraged her interests in European history, languages, and the arts. Annemarie then explains why she chose to study art history, and then discusses some of her experiences living in Europe during the 1970s and 1980s; what conducting research was like during this time; and then reflects on the differences between conducting research then, compared to today. Annemarie introduces the Habsburgs in detail, and paints a picture of their history, from its thirteenth-century origin to its demise in the early-twentieth century. To conclude, she ponders why she so enjoys researching the Habsburg women, and then notes the importance of publishing engaging new research, to further inspire future historians.
Watch an hour-long film made for Portuguese television (with English subtitles) about the Lisbon exhibition featuring Annemarie.
You can learn more about Annemarie and her work on her website.
'Dutch Art & Design Today' is published by Semicolon-Press.