Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien - Part V

The collection of 17th and 18th century art gets a bit more international. Take for example the works by Diego Velazquez (1599 to 1660) - the Spaniard′s paintings made it to the Habsburg's collection via the Spanish line of the family, forking off the main branch with Emperor Charles V.

When the English habit of the "Grand Tour" - something like 18th century Interrail tours for wealthy youngsters - sparked over to Germanic countries, a new boom of collecting Italian art kicked in. Suddenly landscape paintings and views on cities such as Rome, Naples, Venice or Florence were fashionable on an art market that for the first time since Antiquity started to target a mass audience.

The Romantic paintings of the 18th century that the Kunsthistorisches Museums has on display will give you a detailed idea of what that meant. Painters like Canaletto (1697 to 1768) still have an almost immaculate reputation - but many of their colleagues and successors aimed to please a growing audience in a manner that I find not terribly appealing. Kitsch is kitsch - regardless of whether it was created yesterday or 250 years ago.

Why I like the KHM Vienna

What I really like about the Kunsthistorisches Museum: At no point in its collection the museums attempts to claim to be "complete" - like any private collection, it follows individual's interests, has focus points and weaknesses. Several important aspects in the history of art are under-represented, but nobody ever cared to add works to fill the gap.

This spirit of acquiring art in an impulsive and dedicated way that favours certain schools had something very shaping for me and I prefer it clearly to the "let's grab a bit of everything" spirit that you can find in many Victorian collections in London. Apart from the exhibits of the main building (Hauptgebäude), parts of the collection are shown in other buildings.

This includes the "Theatre Museum" in the Palais Lobkowitz, the Neue Burg with the Ephesos-Museum, the collection of ancient musical instruments, the Court's Hunting and Armour Collection ("Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer"), the Hofburg's Treasury ("Schatzkammer"), the Lipizzaner Museum, the Wagenburg (Carriage collection) in Schloss Schönbrunn Castle, and Schloss Ambras Castle. So if you feel that there's too much art on display in the main building - think of the other museums; and the vast amount of objects in archives and storage rooms that are not on display at all.

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Official Website of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien