Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Alte Pinakothek

For a student of art history, the Alte Pinakothek is simply incredible!

Its permanent collection contains many master works and its special exhibits are phenomena. Currently, there is a giant exhibit of works by members of the Brueghel family with pieces gathered from major museums throughout the world.

Starting with Brueghel the elder, the exhibit shows the influence of this family of artists and the collaborations they had with other artists. Unfortunately, photography was strictly forbidden.

And now for the permanent collection.... drum roll please... :-)

Albrecht Durer, Self Portrait, one of the most important works of the Northern Renaissance. It was Durer's plea for art in a sense. He paints a self-portrait that is styled as a portrait of the Christ, arguing for the value of the artist, as he had seen the profession valued in Renaissance Italy.

Fra Angelico, The Visitation

Fillipo Lippi, Madonna and Child

Belevedere Palaces

Today was altogether incredible. I spent most of the day exploring the art of the Belvedere and then returning to see more works at the Albertina museum. The Belvedere's collection is incredible and most distinctive for its large number of master works by Gustav Klimt, the most famous of which is The Kiss.

The estate and palaces were built by Prince Eugene of Saxony who served as one of the Austrian empire's great generals and military strategists who waged successful campaigns against the Turks to the acclaim of the Austrian aristocracy and to great personal wealth. As a bachelor without heir, Eugene's estate passed on to family members who sold the land and all its buildings to the Hapsburgs. Maria Theresa renamed the estate Belevedere, or beautiful view. While certainly baroque, the estate possesses greater hominess and charm than the austere and lavish Schonbrunn.

Unfortunately, photography of the artwork is strictly forbidden, but I have some images of the palaces and grounds. In a word, it is simply magical and the art within the palaces is divine.

The Upper Belvedere palace

Lower Belvedere Fountain

The Marble Hall

The Golden Room, which dates from Maria Theresa's reign (when Antoinette was a young girl) and was used to display rare Chinese vases

Side view of the Lower Belveder palace from the Privy Garden

The Orangery (a temporary exhibition space)

Garden statues

View of the gardens, Lower Belvedere and the Vienna skyline from the second floor of the Upper Belvedere Palace ("Belvedere" means beautiful view)

Finally some blue skies and a sunny day!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Munich in the Rain

June 1st to the 3rd was endlessly rainy. Rainy and very, very cold. From everyone I've spoken with, it's a very unusual summer. Very unusual. And the unexpected rain has generated unprecedented summer flooding, the likes of which hasn't happened in more than a decade.

It's a good thing that a majority of our activities in Munich were indoors, namely churches, cafes and museums!

Our first night was spent navigating to our respective hotels and then meeting for dinner at the famous Hofbrauhaus in Munchen (Munich), also called a beer garden.

Venison Stew with dumplings

Suckling pig with dumplings

Giant pretzels for sale!

Munich celebrating the night of the championship game!

Hofbrauhaus band

Beer garden in the Munchen rain!

"Traditional" German/Austrian dress for men and women on the way home. These are very popular and VERY expensive! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Out and about in Salzburg!

Between lectures and with limited time off, I had a bit of time to explore Salzburg with friends. Here are some pictures about town. Salzburg is beautiful, even in endless rain...

Walking into the city we pass by a beautiful fountain

And one of the oldest cafes in Salzburg which makes amazing....

Hot Chocolate

On the first Sunday after our arrival a group of us attended Sunday mass at the Dom. The choir that performs is incredible. When I have time to edit the video, I'll share it.

After Mass we had a short time to explore before heading back to lecture at the seminar. Outside the massive facade of the Dom, I bought watercolor paintings of the city from a street artist. I also bought a pretzel at the market (major item on the bucket list!) and decided to explore the catacombs of St. Peter's Church in the time we had left. The catacombs have amazing views of the Dom and a beautifully cared for cemetery.

Pretzels in the market outside the Dom

View of the Dom from the catacombs

Cemetery outside the catacombs

Carved into the side of the cliffs is a medieval chapel. Inside the darkened and dank space was an altar and frescoes only visible through a camera lens.

Fun fact about Austria: There is limited space in many cemeteries and because of this graves are rented rather than owned. They require monthly rent from the family and once no one is able to pay the rent, the bodies are exhumed and placed in a catacomb.

Walking back to Schloss Leopoldskron and lunch...

That night, I decided to spend a bit of the evening writing in the library with a friend. It was an incredible experience to work in this beautiful and historic space, with ancient stucco and carvings, the smell of old books, and polished wood. I sat on the second floor where there are several desks in front of small round windows that face the Schloss grounds. It was an incredibly inspiring place to write.

On our other free afternoon of exploration, I set off with some friends, again in the pouring rain (I'm skeptical at this point that summer ever comes to Salzburg)...

 Salzburg painted eggs shop, one of the most unique place for souvenirs in the old city

Although we had already eaten lunch, we decided to have a second lunch and check off some more bucket list items in Salzburg :)


 Balkan Curry Sausage stand line (seriously amazing food!) For 3,50 one gets two sausages in a hotdog bun with curry powder, onions, mustard, and parsley. It is delicious, especially the kick of spice in the freezing cold rain. My friend and I hid beneath a protruding porch in the medieval alleyway and ate our Balkan Sausages with lemonade soda before trying one of Salzburg's infamous treats...

The Salzburger Nockerl at the famous Mozart Cafe

....a souffle dessert with berries underneath. After a lunch at the Schloss, and a second lunch of Curry Balkan sausages (my friend an I were determined to sample as much of Salzburger cuisine as possible) it was very filling, and absolutely delicious.

Gingerbread at a market stall on our way back to the Schloss