Today is a long day which starts with Museums, progresses to food, then more museums and finishes with music. We start in an area of Vienna which is devoted to Museums.
Here there are a large number of galleries encompassing a wide range of art.
We start the day with a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts which has paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Dürer, Raphael, Titian and Velazquez, as well as the most comprehensive collection of Bruegel's paintings in the world. In other words, it has enough paintings to last you a lifetime. We have time only to see a few works of Rubens and Bruegel.
Again, the Museum is very good for disabled access once you are inside but there is no wheelchair ramp up to the entrance and once in the entrance, there is a narrow channel designed to corral visitors towards the cash desk which you have to navigate and also plenty of disinterested staff standing there watching you do it. Putting this to one side, it is a superb museum both in its design and in its content.
The inside of the central dome is as wonderful as others we have seen.
The detailing is superb
and is a worth a visit on its own.
Because we got there just as it was opening (10 am), the main staircase was empty.
The Rubens Gallery was interesting, not because there were some very large Rubens hanging on each wall, but because adjacent to some of them was the original small version of the painting.
When Rubens was commissioned to do a painting, he first painted a small version (here shown on the bottom left). Once the content of this was agreed, he then passed it over to his studio team to produce the larger version. Hence it is possible that only the small version is a Rubens and the large version is a copy produced by his team.
Hence the small paintings are worth much more than the large paintings.
This is Rubens wife Helena Ferment whom he married in 1630. The idea of the painting comes from a similar one by Titian called “Women in a Fur Coat”.
Possible the most famous painting in the gallery is Bruegel’s "The Peasant Wedding” painted in 1868.
The Wikipedia description of the painting differs in a number of respects to the account we were given. We were told that Bruegel always put an error into each of his paintings and in this one, it is the third leg seemingly attached to the man in red carrying the plates on the barn door. There is a video description of the painting here.
The error in Procession to Calvary was said to be the Ditch Windmill on top of the rock - there are no Dutch Windmills near Calvary!
It is a gallery we would wish to revisit at a much slower pace someday and without a wheelchair if possible.
which is mainly devoted to Modern Art with a particular emphasis on Austrian Art from the first half of the 20th Century.
Just inside the entrance hall is a wonderful sign which the Museum staff said was more popular and photographed more often than the paintings within.
The Entrance Hall runs full height and is impressive.
We are there to see the exhibition of paintings by Egon Schiele
and luckily for me, our guide knows a lot about the artist. Interesting but not really for me.
It describes itself thus: The Griechenbeisl is one of Vienna’s oldest inns. Artists, scholars and politicians would congregate in the Griechenbeisl to eat, drink, debate and reflect – often into the early hours. From the world famous balladeer ‘Der lieber Augustin’ to later figures of the stature of Beethoven, Schubert, Wagner, Strauss, Brahms, the painters Waldmüller and Schwind, the opera singer Schaljapin, writers Mark Twain, Grillparzer and Nestroy, and political personalities such as Karl Lueger and Graf Zeppelin have all appreciated itstraditional Viennese cuisine and creature comforts. The framed autographs on the walls of the famous Mark Twain room ensure that their presence lives on here. Both the Viennese and visitors to the city continue to meet here to enjoy a meal, a few drinks and live music. In summer or winter, al fresco or inside its cosy vaulted rooms, at the Griechenbeisl you can experience a true taste of Vienna.
This rather atmospheric alleyway is one way of getting to the restaurant, it seems to have lost none of the atmosphere of old Vienna.
Because of its charm, the Alleyway is often used for wedding photographs.
On the wall is an original sign reminding you of a law dating from 1912 which I think is warning pedestrians about the steep road and telling horse riders that they have to lead their horses or have someone ahead of them to warn pedestrians they are coming.
A sign outside remembers Augustin who used to sing in the restaurant / inn
and to commemorate his falling into a plague pit, as you walk into the restaurant, you pass over a grate beneath which you can see him surrounded by coins from those who treat him as a wishing well.
Inside there is some beautiful painted glass within the doors and the windows
The restaurant specialises in large Wiener Schnitzel and a speciality desert but being a vegetarian, for lunch I have
and then the speciality desert which is Apricot Ice Cream Dumplings in Apricot Liqueur or Eismarillenknodel as it is known in Vienna. To describe this as delicious is a serious understatement.
This was the other desert option - a warm chocolate soufflé covers with dark chocolate sauce and whipped cream (Hausgemachter Mohr in Hemd) and those who had that but were allowed a taste of the Dumplings agreed that the Dumplings were divine and theirs was ok.
In a side room of the restaurant is something for which it is very famous - a room full of signatures on the walls and ceiling of the rich and famous.
Above is Mozart
here Johnny Cash
Bismark and many more.
In the corner of this room is an original Masonry Room Heater. I show this here not because it is particularly unique and special to the Inn but because it was one which one could approach without being shouted at by museum custodians. They come in all colours, shapes, sizes and patterns and essentially are early (and probably just as efficient) versions of the Night Storage Heater.
Secession is an Art Gallery perhaps most famous for the Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze. On the facade of the (totally disability unfriendly) building
is the phrase “To every time its art. To art its freedom.” On the ground floor (reached up some steps) is a large rather empty gallery
which we could not get into
and in the basement is the Beethoven Frieze. There are far better images and explanations of it on the web than I could give and it is hard to adequately record it from down below.
This is a view of the palace which is only seen by birds and helicopters.
This is the view we saw when we arrived.
The Schönbrunn Palace is a 1,441 room summer residence dating from the mid 1700s. We arrived towards the end of the afternoon and because we had our own private 40 room tour scheduled for just after that day's public closure of the museum we started off in the Carriage Museum and then Gardens.
This Children’s Carriage was designed to be pulled by a Sheep or a small Pony.
This is a winter sledge, perhaps rather heavy for pulling over the snow.
and the Imperial Carriage is a Coronation Coach.
The rear of the palace is spectacular and shows the full size of
a palace built for a ruling class of possibly some 30+ people with hundreds of people employed to keep them in a state of comfort.
The view from the rear is superb with a structure (rebuilt after WWII) known as The Gloriette on the horizon.
Private Tours of the palace are available after it closes to the general public and we were fortunate to be given one. It was a very different experience walking from room to room in an almost empty palace to that which you get when you are sharing everything with hundreds of other people.
We went on the 40 room tour (which is the full number of rooms open to the public) and amongst the highlights were:
The Hall of Mirrors
The Black Lacquer Room
and The Walnut Room
It is quite a unique experience to have the Palace to yourself.
Quite often during the year, there is a Strauss and Mozart concert in the Schönbrunn Orangery. In true period style, at the concert we went to, the conductor
played a violin during many of the Strauss pieces.
And when we left, the palace was beautifully lit up.