Schloss Belvedere Palace & Art Museum
Österreichische Galerie Belvedere - Part III
The Baroque part of the exhibition ends with the kick-ass Goldkabinett, a hall decorated with gold, more gold and Chinese porcelains. The central piece of the room is a statue of Prince Eugene, a very influential sculpture by Balthasar Permoser. The "Museum Mittelalterlicher Kunst" in the nearby orangery displays some Gothic art from late-Medieval time including works by Michael Pacher. I can′t say much about this part of the gallery, as it has always been closed or under refurbishment when I tried to see it. Which doesn′t matter too much, as the main attractions of the Belvedere are Baroque and the trio of Klimt/Schiele/Kokoschka and their contemporaries on display in the Upper Belvedere.
What a great bridge: The Upper Belvedere can be reached in a 5-minute-stroll across the formal gardens. If you got the time, try to stay a little longer, though - there are few gardens in Austria that could rival these in terms of Baroque beauty. The parks of Schloss Schönbrunn, maybe, or the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg; but that is pretty much it.
Anyway, once you made it to the Upper Belvedere, you can enter through the "back door" and move on to the impressive entrance hall mentioned above. It is a fine example of a typically Baroque design in which visitors - coming for a masked ball, enormous feast with an orgy or something Baroque like that - would enter in relative darkness and then move towards lit parts of the hall. Most visitors come to the Belvedere for the sake of seeing Klimt paintings.
Austrian Expressionist Painters: A World beyond Klimt
This is surely a respectable reason, but shouldn′t be the only one you have in mind in a museum that has a lot more to offer than one artist - regardless of how famous he is. Therefore, the works of Klimt are displayed in a changing mix with several of his contemporaries: Kolo Moser (who is also well-presented in the Museum Leopold and designed the windows in the Otto Wagner church in the Steinhof), Carl Moll, Richard Gerstl (who f...dated Arnold Schoenberg′s wife, who left her husband first and then a few months later Gerstl, who committed suicide after that - that much in terms of gossip).
The most important painting by Klimt is "Der Kuss" (The Kiss) depicting Klimt himself getting busy with his long-term girlfriend Emilie Flöge. There are several other works by Klimt that you will recognise - and some that you won′t find anymore. Several paintings that had been stolen from Jewish families had to be returned in 2006, including the famous portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.
Due to the sheer stupidity and arrogance of the Austrian government officials, no negotiations about buying the paintings back to Austria took place and Adele was put up for auction and became the most expensively sold painting in history. You will have to go to New York to see it these days. The lawyer representing Adele Bloch-Bauer′s heirs was the grandson of Arnold Schoenberg, by the way.
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