Cigdem Özel


Cigdem Özel studied Art History and History in Heidelberg, Florence and Vienna. She completed her studies with a thesis on ephemeral pictures for the adoration of the Eucharist during the reign of Emperor Leopold I. Lately she worked as a Curatorial Assistant in the Picture Gallery, as well as an art educator in the Collection of the Picture Gallery and the Kunstkammer in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Since September 2020 Cigdem Özel is a Predoctoral Fellow at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in the Department of Prof. Dr. Tanja Michalsky, working on a dissertation project on the art patronage of Maria Carolina (1752–1814), Queen of Naples-Sicily, supervised by Prof. Dr. Sebastian Schütze.

Research interests: Art in the 17th an 18th century, female art patronage , material culture, history of collecting in Vienna and Naples, ephemeral art in the 17th and 18th century.

Current research projectAntike Wunder und eine moderne Königin – The art patronage of Maria Carolina (1752-1814), Queen of Naples-Sicily, in the context of artistic and cultural exchange between Naples and Vienna.
 The reign of Maria Carolina (1752-1814) was characterized by a period of cultural prosperity in the Kingdom of Naples-Sicily, which thanks to the excavations in Herculaneum and Pompei was attracting an increasing number of Grand Tourists. Although eighteenth-century female patronage has been quite widely studied, a deeper inquiry about Maria Carolina’s artistic patronage does not hitherto exist. The project investigates the Queen’s artistic patronage through the study of three object groups having a close connection to Vienna, which is not only Maria Carolina’s birthplace, but an important reference throughout her entire life: First, the stone centrepiece figuring the temples of Paestum in the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna, second, the family portraits in different techniques and materials; and third the frescoes by Heinrich Friedrich Füger in the Queen’s library in the Reggia di Caserta. Besides reflecting upon the genesis and reception of the works, the PhD project will reconstruct the network involved in their preparation and execution of the artworks. The main aims of the project are to shed light on the meaning of the chosen works and on Maria Carolina as an art patron in the family and political context. The project will also examine to what extent the fact of being Queen in the Kingdom of Naples-Sicily and the exchanges with Vienna played a role in her commissions. Finally, the PhD research will study how Maria Carolina’s artistic patronage shaped her own image as a Queen and that of her kingdom.


  • „Die Tempel von Paestum als Deser. Der Tafelaufsatz einer Königin im Kunsthistorischen Museum“, in Sebastian Schütze (ed.), Fortunata Neapolis: Kunst- und Kulturtransfer zwischen Neapel, Wien und Mitteleuropa, Berlin 2020, pp. 175–201.
  • several catalogue entries in Gudrun Swoboda and Stefan Weppelmann (ed.), Caravaggio & Bernini. Entdeckung der Gefühle, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien and Rijksmuseum, Munich, London, New York 2019.
  • „Inszenierte Eucharistiefrömmigkeit unter Kaiser Leopold I.“, in Spettacolo barocco! Triumph des Theaters, exhibition catalogue, Theatermuseum Wien, Petersberg 2016, pp. 143–149