The 300th birthday of Empress Maria Theresa provides an opportunity to examine her outstanding interest in the fine arts. At the invitation of the reforming monarch a large number of painters, sculptors and other artists in Austria and abroad found a wealt h of work opportunities. Correspondingly, this era has left its mark on the countries of the former Habsburg monarchy to this day. Maria Theresa pursued an individual approach with regard to cultural policy. She was interested in reform not only in educati on, but also in the field of art. She commissioned contemporary artists and helped portrait painting to a new upswing, leading not least to the international consolidation of the newly formed House of Habsburg – Lorraine. This was the function also fulfilled by the allegorical paintings and ceiling frescoes for which impressive cartoons have survived. Landscape painting was highly esteemed, and finally outstanding masterpieces were produced in sculpture and three – dimensional works, for example by Balthasar Fe rdinand Moll and Franz Xaver Messerschmidt.