Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Friday, 13 July 2012

Vienna (3)

My last day's photographs in Vienna managed to get lost, since the camera that took them went for a holiday of its own somewhere en route, but there are plenty of better photos of the Upper Belvedere palace (more status display, this time by Prince Eugene, a successful general, and didn't he want to underline that in architecture), of the giant funfair and Ferris Wheel in the Prater and of the Danube itself. Pity about the lost photo of the place advertising "Running Sushi and Running Fondue", but perhaps that's something best left to the imagination anyway.

The main interest was the collection in the Belvedere, and particularly Klimt's "Kiss", photos of which just don't seem to do full justice to its size, or to the glow of its gold (particularly in the background, which tends to look like a muddy brown in a lot of reproductions, if it's not cropped out altogether). One might almost be looking at a mediaeval tapestry.

But though that's what most people rush to see, there is much more worth the looking at. One of the first paintings to hit the eye is one of five of David's huge portrait of Napoleon crossing the St Bernard Pass, with hubristic allusions to past heroes who took armies over the Alps - among them Hannibal (did he forget just what happened to Carthage in the end?). Walk into one of the circular rooms with a panoramic view of the park, and there's something that I'd seen on TV not so long ago, Messerschmidt's "character heads", all arranged in a circle and grimacing at the view. In among sundry other Romantic paintings are a few by Caspar David Friedrich - this one in particular has his characteristic atmosphere of mystery and hidden meaning:

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