For the artist, see the note to the previous lot.
The accession of Maria Theresa to the Habsburg throne marks an important epoch in Austrian history. The efforts of her father, Charles VI, to secure the throne for her could not avert war, and in 1740 the War of Austrian Succession began. Austria's enemies, France, Bavaria, Spain, Saxony and Sardinia were lined up against her, whilst internal opposition to the Habsburg regime was vocal for the claims of Charles of Bavaria. For a time it seemed as though the existnece of the Habsburg monarchy was in question. In this crisis, the strength of character of the young Empress showed very clearly, awakening in her country a feeling of loyalty that arguably left the monarchy stronger after the War - despite territorial losses - than it had been before.
Although she never managed to reclaim the territories lost in the War of Austrian Successionr, nevertheless, the rest of her reign witnessed expansion in the Balkans, Italy and Southern Germany. Perhaps most important of all in her foreign policy, however, was the ending of the old rivalry between the Bourbons and Habsburgs with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1756. It is for her domestic policy that Maria Theresa is most remembered. She oversaw a massive centralization of the administration of the Empire. This she accomplished, through her tact and diplomatic skills, without threatening the old estates and constitutions that were to resist her son's reforms. As much as any other monarch, Maria Theresa may be regarded as the practical founder of the unified Austrian state; it was her social, religious and educational reform that mark her reign as the true period of transition from medieval to modern Austria.