One of the most important art museums in the world, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, boasted large and excellent collections of Egyptian and Greek & Roman antiquities, sculpture and decorative arts - including the lost and found gold salt cellar by Cellini, manuscripts and coins and paintings by masters from schools of Italian, Dutch and Flemish, German, Spanish, French and English.
The museum had great collections of works by Venetian masters, such as Titian and Veronese, and a highlight from this collections visited San Francisco's De Young Museum early this year. They were marvelous and piqued my desire of return to Wien (Vienna) soon; however, I was more drawn to its less flashy, more melancholic works by masters from the northern countries.
Pressed hard, I pick these two Dutch paintings below as my favorite.
Die Malkunst (The Art of Painting) - Holland
Johannes Vermeer van Delft | um 1666/1668
This intricately arranged and beautifully tinted interior
genre painting above by Johannes Vermeer was an allegory of the art of painting. The model posed as Clio, the Muse of history, who inspired the painter and
proclaimed the glory of painting in the old Netherlands, personified by the antique map of Netherlands of its 17 provinces on the wall, and also immortalized in the book of history she was holding. The very detailed execution bore all the hallmarks of this wonderful realism yet stylish painter. The interplay of blue and yellow hues danced from left on the heavy, half-drawn curtain, to the model and her book and trumpet, the easel and the sketched headdress, all the way to the map. The artist was presented as a gentleman in his finery of black, white and red, with an obvious high social standing deserved by all artists in an idealized world.
Jäger im Schnee (Winter) (Hunters in Snow (Winter)) - Netherlands
Pieter Bruegel d. Ä. | 1565 datiert
This very clearly defined painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder created a most tangible feeling of clear winter chill. The tired hunters and exhausted dogs, wading through deep snow on a slope, pointing to a tranquil village below, with bridges, cottages and frozen lakes, decorated with tiny skaters, all painted in a delightful folksy way. The preparations of a pig to be singed on the left background added more details to the village life. The lone result of the hunt, a fox hanging over a hunter's shoulder, and the drooping postures of the men and the hounds added melancholy to this chilly picture. However, the chilling atmosphere in the temperature did not depress. The snow, in pale yellow glow, was enveloping, all the way to the peaks in the far distance, gave the picture a unity and brightened sense. The people, fatigued hunters aside, frolicking, rather nonchalant in the cold, was quite life-reaffirming. Even the bare trees were granted some brave birds, with one of them gliding gracefully in the cold air. Every detail, all virtuosic and consistent, was delightful and created a unified world, permanently suspended, or frozen, in time and space.
My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 40: My Favorite "Sculptures" at the Imperial Crypt (Kapuzinergruft), Vienna
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 38: My Favorite Paintings at Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien