Wednesday, 22 September 2010


19/9/10, Kunsthaus Museum, Vienna

This place makes the V&A look modest. There's a circular entrance hall, tiling, a black and white floor, leading to a grand staircase with enormous frescoes by Klimt and others. One woman gasped audibly as she walked in and saw it, and well she might.

And then there's a spectacular collection of Old Masters. A whole room full of Breughels... really, really famous ones: Winter, the Tower of Babel, Children's Games, a painting of Christ Being Taken to Be Crucified which I think is another version of the one in Nostell Priory written up here in The Guardian:

And I haven't even mentioned the Conversion of Saul (actually that may be the painting which in composition resembles the Nostell Priory Procession to Calvary), the Massacre of the Innocents, the Peasant Wedding... They're all full of incredible detail, chunky figures, the wintry scenes so effective because there's so much white in them.

There's some pictures by Holbein the Elder -- decent but uninspired -- alongside Holbein the Younger's Jane Seymour, Dr John Chambers and two pictures of young merchants, greatly superior to his dad's stuff.

There's a vast painting by Albrecht Altdorfer of Lot's daughters, their father an old man with yellow skin looking lecherous, one daughter fully nude lying alongside and largely obscuring his withered body, the other kneeling by a stream in the distance; and there's a Cranach of the same scene in which the daughters are discreetly clothed.

There's a memorable Durer of Maximilian I in a fur cape.

And a whole room of Dutch group portraits from the great era of Rembrandt and his contemporaries. It was a temporary exhibition so I should have given it more attention, but by that stage I was glutted.

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