Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Italians and Spanish and cake

Though you can't tell it from this blog, most days on this trip I eat healthier and less than when I'm at home.  Sometimes, though, a great restaurant or a street vendor makes a bit of bad eating simply irresistible.  So it was today, on the way to the Kunsthistorische Museum to see its collection of Italian and Spanish works, when the wurst stand beckoned me with its promise of the wurst box.

Click on any image to see a larger version.

We're talking wurst with cheese, on top of French fries, covered in more-or-less ketchup, in a Chinese take-out box.

No, I didn't even come close to finishing it.

Back at the museum, but this time in its Italian wing, another man was painting a reproduction. 

Sorry for the hazy shot; it's hard to get good pictures surreptitiously.  I don't know why, but seeing a person doing that makes me happy.

I know very little about Francesco Furini, but after seeing his work today, I want to know more.  This piece was particularly lovely.

Similarly, the Spanish painter Antonio de Pereda was new to me but really engaged me with this symbol-laden piece.

The collection was reasonably varied, with far more Italian works than Spanish.  Had I never visited the museums in Florence or Venice, this would have struck me as an amazing set of paintings.  It is amazing, but obviously not up to the sets of Italian paintings in those cities.

Diego Velazquez had few works on display, but those available were beautiful.  I particularly liked this one, which was one of the last two pieces he completed before his death. 

Again, never let anyone tell you your best work is behind you. 

The photo I took cannot capture the beauty of this Bronzino, and the glare is terrible, but the picture is still, I think, worth sharing.

By the way, don't get spoiled by all these pictures; the great bandwidth at this hotel is what makes it reasonable for me to share them.  When the bandwidth quality declines, so, too, will the picture count. 

The greatest revelations for me today came from the work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a sixteenth-century painter I am amazed and embarrassed I had not encountered before.  This guy's best work, his "portraits" of seasons and elements, was whacked in absolutely wonderful ways. 

Here's his Summer.

Yes, he makes heads of an amazing variety of things.  I particularly loved Water

To return to a more traditional master, the collection had a nice sampling of paintings by Raphael, such as this Madonna.

Yes, I really broke the no-photography rule today.  People were doing it everywhere, the guards didn't seem to care, and I wasn't using a flash, so I went a bit crazy.

Also on display were quite a few works by Tintoretto.  Most featured his usual dark backgrounds, but I absolutely fell for this completely atypical, lighter piece. 

The collection also included a few paintings by Veronese and Titian, whose works I always enjoy seeing.

In another part of the giant complex that was once the home of the Habsburgs sits a much smaller museum that showcases part of the royal treasury and regalia.  After hours of paintings, seeing some fully dimensional objects was just the right ticket. 

I particularly liked this "unicorn horn," which of course is from a narwhal (and labeled as both; I do not ever mean to imply that these folks don't know what they're doing, because they do).

Most of the items were the sort of splendid, jewel-encrusted pieces you'd expect, but some, including the reliquaries, were more unusual.  I particularly liked this box, which they dated to 1660 and attributed to Daniel Neuberger. 

Yeah, I'd like to party with Dan.

Here's a coronation mantle.

Not impressive, you say?  It's from 1131. 

Sure, this crown is on the rough side.

Of course, it's from 1030.

Want a fancy binding for your Bible?

They knew how to do it in 1500. 

On the I-said-this-was-a-rough-food-day front, I had to make sure that while I was in Vienna I went to the Hotel Sacher and had an original sacher torte (well, one of the two legally approved originals). 

As I'd feared, it was merely okay, even a bit dry.  When it comes to quick dessert stops, I'll take a tiny cup of Florentine gelato every day--and it has way fewer calories. 

The art today, though, more than made up for the cake. 


David Drake said...

Dear Mark,

Was the first picture today (the one being copied) a Bellini?

This is neat stuff.

By the way, I would've had the Sacher Torte also, just for the history. As with the scones and clotted cream in Canterbury.

As always,

Mark said...

I do not know for certain if it was a Bellini, though I think so.


Blog Archive