Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien - Part III
The bigger and more famous part of the collection, however, is the "Gemäldegalerie" on the first floor. It is divided into a shockingly high number of rooms with individual galleries and demonstrates the kick-ass advantages of being part of the World's oldest dynasty:
Despite of never being overly powerful compared to the absolute Kings of England or France, the Habsburgs enjoyed quite a fancy rule between the 13th and the 20th century and used their 800 years of heydays to accumulate one bitch of an art collection. Start with the Bruegels, a family of Flemish artists whose names were pronounced in a way nobody seems to be able to agree on. Fortunately, this is a written article that I won't have to read to anyone (I tend to pronounce it like "Broigle", with the "r" rolled as in German).
Regardless of how controversial the pronunciation of their name might be, the quality and significance of their artwork is not doubted by anyone serious about the history of art. The senior "Peasant Bruegel" (1525 to 1569) specialised on scenes from peasant's lives. Famous pieces of work include the "Gloomy Day", the "Hunters in the Snow" or the detailed study of "Children's Games". Many paintings from this part of the collection will hit you immediately as familiar: Reprints of famous paintings such as the "Tower of Babel" or many still-lives by the "Flower Bruegel" Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568 to 1625) are well-known even to the naive viewer of art.
Dutch, German & Flemish Painters
Rudolf II is still considered to be a very mysterious figure in Austria's history. He spent most of his life in the palace of the (then) Imperial capital of Prague, which he made a centre of arts and sciences - which was primarily alchemy, astrology, numerology and other practices close to black magic. However, the Gnostic emperor was also a great aficionado of fine arts and so the KHM contains many paintings by Germanic painters of the Renaissance and early Baroque.
It includes works by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 to 1553) from Krems, who is considered to be the most significant painter of the "Danube School" - a Renaissance style typical for the Wachau region of today's Austria. The Nuremberg master Albrecht Dürer (1471 to 1528) is internationally more famous and was probably more influential, too, spreading Italian traditions and styles over the Germanic domain of Europe. Some of his paintings in the Kunsthistorisches Museum demonstrate the move that artists made from Medieval anonymity to personal fame: Dürer depicts himself in several of is works and also signs them with his name.
Hans Holbein the Younger (1497 to 1543) is mostly famous for his realistic portraits of the Royal family of England, depicting King Henry VI and the early Tudors the way we still imagine them to be. Hans of Aachen (1551 to 1615) painted a portrait of his benefactor Rudolf II.
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