Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien - Part IV

The works by Guiseppe Arcimboldo (1527 to 1593) are clearly a lot more famous than the artist himself - the compositions of vegetables, flowers and other still-life elements that were arranged into heads and faces are widely re-printed. Rudolf's soft spot for strangeness helped Arcimboldo to secure a high number of commissions, of which only a few made it into the KHM. Anthony van Dyck (1599 to 1641) finally bridges the gap to Baroque painters and modern styles which a more coarse and "incomplete" use of the brush.

There are many more Dutch and Flemish masterpieces: painters such as Peter Paul Rubens (1577 to 1640) are represented with a large number of paintings. In the case of Rubens, they fill an impressive three gallery rooms. The Kunsthistorisches Museum provides a great opportunity to compare Rubens to the other "grand master" of Flemish/ Dutch painting, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606 to 1669).

His portraits contra point the elaborate style of Rubens with their simplicity and precise depiction and sparse use of light. Finally, Jan Vermeer's (1623 to 1675) landscapes, portraits and allegories were crucial contributions to the history of art in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. Many of his works are housed in the KHM.

More Paintings: Northern Italian Masters

The Italian masters were another core-element of the imperial art collection. However, the Habsburgs acquired paintings with high specificity and specialised on certain periods. A key interest was apparently late-Renaissance and Baroque paintings mostly from Northern Italy. This is almost certainly concerned with the fact that Northern Italy went under the rule of the Habsburgs early on and at the peak of Germanic admiration of Italian culture, in the 17th and 18th century, Austrian nobility could afford to acquire artworks on a large scale.

The most outstanding pieces of the KHM collection are by Titian (1490 to 1576) - watch out for the blue, Titian's "speciality" and made from the valuable semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. The collection of Titian paintings is extensive enough to follow the development of the artist's style even without a background in fine arts. The precision of the Italian Renaissance transforms into a very loosely applied brush later in Titian's life.

Other masters represented in this section include Andrea Mantegna (1431 to 1506), Giovanni Bellini (1460 to 1516), the semi-anonymous Giorgione (1478 to 1511), legendary Paolo Veronese (1528 to 1588) and several portraits and biblical scenes by Tintoretto (1518 to 1594). Quite openly erotic paintings of antique motives were contributed by Antonio Correggio (1494 to 1534), a peculiar self-portrait by Parmigianino (which I think means "little parmesan cheese", doesn't it?

I wonder how that guy smelled - 1503 to 1540) and works by Raphael (1483 to 1520) show alongside paintings by Agnolo Bronzino (1503 to 1572) finally proves that Italy ruled in the days of early Baroque in pretty much any discipline of arts and culture.

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