When the Kaisersaal was built by Duke Maximilian I in the early seventeenth century it was the largest and most important room for festivities in the Residenz. The ceiling is decorated with an extensive cycle of paintings by Peter Candid and members of his workshop. The pictures aim to demonstrate that Reason and Virtue should form the twin foundations of princely rule.
The figures in the three main images – the originals of which were destroyed in 1944 – symbolise Monarchy, Wisdom and Fame.
The theme of princely virtue is taken up by the tapestries, which are the work of the Dutch weaver Hans van der Biest. They depict exemplary heroes from classical antiquity and the Old Testament. The paintings at the top of the walls show episodes from ancient history and the Bible that in the seventeenth century were likewise viewed as models of virtuous behaviour.
The message of the images in the Kaisersaal culminated in a red porphyry figure of Virtue standing on the mantelshelf above the fireplace; the statue has not survived.
In the seventeenth century the Kaisersaal was reached via the Kaisertreppe (Emperor's Staircase), a spacious, magnificently decorated flight of steps ascending from the Kaiserhof (Emperor's Court).
The images in the Kaisersaal again represent princely virtue by means of paragons taken from classical antiquity and the Old Testament, while on the staircase sculptures related this theme to figures from Bavarian history, notably members of the Wittelsbach dynasty.