A lovely train ride north from Verona brings me to Munich and more art devoted to Judith. I started at the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum) because, well, it is one of the most important museums of decorative arts in Europe. In addition, it is one of the largest art museums in Germany – although frankly I was focused and skipped a few centuries.
The goal was Conrad Meit’s diminutive Judith, discussed in Judith is exposed. In addition to being petite, she is a study in contrasts – virtuous and voluptuous, well-coiffed and unclothed, feminine pose and ferocious sword, demote and deadly. Yes, Meit captured a lot of meaning in a relatively small statuette.
The second stop for the day was Villa Stuck. I knew I was taking a chance that “Judith and Holofernes” (1927) would not be in the house … and it was not. But the visit to this museum was far from a waste of my time because the vision of Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) is fully on display. Discussed in Judith and Lili, Von Stuck had a non-traditional perspective on art. He co-founded the Munich Secession to transform ideas of what constitutes art and embarked on making art part of ordinary life – in everything from architecture to furniture. Villa Stuck is the manifestation of this approach, in which you see Von Stuck/s art in the interior design and furnishings in addition to his paintings.
So in the place of Judith, the Villa showcases one of Von Stuck’s first artworks to ignite attention to his erotic style: The Sin (Die Sünde), 1893. In fact, it is placed over the infamous Sin Altar designed by Von Stuck – which is adorned by statuettes from antiquity and nautilus shells rather than items associated with sin.
At least it’s not that attention whore, Salome.
For a scholarly video on The Sin (Die Sünde) that is also fairly provocative, visit Khan Academy: Symbolism & Art Nouveau – Stuck, The Sin.
And I almost forgot: there was a lovely exhibit about Hans Christiansen on the third floor. He was also one of the proponents of German Jugendstil but his style was much lighter, his pallet much brighter and his subjects tended to focus on nature mores than heighten sexuality. At least that was the impression of this exhibit that also featured snippets about his successful family life. No murderous heroines included.