The Esterhazy Collection

When you visit the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest, Hungary, one of the expansive collections on view is that of the Esterhazy family. The family became prominent in the Habsburg Empire from the early 16th Century and through clever allegiances and loyalties, managed to build up such enormous wealth that they were larger landowners than the empire itself and their income sometimes exceeded that of the emperor. They were lovers of art and music, being the main patrons of composer Joseph Haydn in the 18th century, they built up an incredible treasury of art.

Owing to financial trouble, Nikolaus III sold the family art collection "on generous terms" to the Austro-Hungarian state in 1870. The collection is, as a result, on public view today in the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest.

Pictured here is an exquisite tapestry from Tabriz, Iran, produced in the 16th century with atlas silk base, gilded leather and silk taft, that formed part of the bulk sale of the Esterhazy collection on view at the Museum of Applied Arts.