When I look back, I wonder: did I really see all this in one day? Two museums with over a thousand works of art and a palace with ten courtyards and one-hundred-thirty rooms? My feet say “Yes” and my bladder says “Hell, yes!” Oh, what I do for Judith.
The day began at Alte Pinakothek, which brings together art from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods. Unfortunately, there is no photography allowed, so I have no record of my visit. But I did have the opportunity to view Simon Vouet’s “Judith with the Head of Holofernes” – one of four that he painted. She did seem to be just as relaxed as I imagined in Judith and Belle Watling.
Around the corner is Neue Pinakothek, the first public museum in Europe dedicated to contemporary art ranging from Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Art Deco, and Impressionism. My goal was “Judith” by August Riedel, and the first thing to note: this painting is so much more beautiful than an image on the internet can ever convey. The color, the detail, the subtle expression on her face – it has to be seen in person. And it is the size of real life.
The color and texture of the fabric give the impression it could be touched. No wonder I titled the previous post on this artwork Judith gets real.
Of course, there is so much more than Judith in this collection and I am glad to have the excuse to roam. Van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Klimt all on crisp,clean well-lit display. And then this surprize:
As I learned, Gabriel Max was also interested in anthropological studies and surrounded himself with a family of monkeys, which he painted often. I wonder what the art critics really thought?
Almost dead center of the city is Munich Residenz, the former royal residence of the Bavarian monarchs and largest city palace in Germany. In one of the ten courtyards, I stopped for a late lunch before entering the galleries. Although the first buildings at this site were erected in 1385, alterations were made up until King Ludwig III of Bavaria occupied the palace shortly before the revolution of 1918. It was his father, King Ludwig II of Bavaria – builder of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof castles – who commissioned the elaborate (but leaky) Winter Garden on the roof of the Festsaalbau. A brief tribute to the Swan King seemed appropriate before renewing the search for Judith.
Within the vast halls of the residence, there are two Judiths to be found with the help of a detailed map. The most amazing room in the residence is the Antiquarium (Room 7), which at 66 meters (216.5 feet) is the largest and most lavish Renaissance hall north of the Alps. It has to be seen to be believed for immensity and elaborateness of the decoration. But alas, no Judith.
Onward to the Imperial Hall (Room 111), which in the 17th century was the largest and most important room for festivities and ceremonies. The theme of the imagery is “princely rule based on reason and virtue,” depicted in heroic figures from classical antiquity and the Old Testament as examples of virtuous behavior. So of course, this is where we find Judith.
If I can read the Latin inscription correctly, it says “Hoc ducis assirii caput est Juditha recidit. Sobria mens vincit, ebria victa iacet” – which translates roughly to “This is the head of the Assyrian general Judith cut off. A sober mind overcomes drunken lies.” An appropriate reminder before entering any occasion serving alcohol – or falsehoods. Until a latin scholar provides a better translation, in which case I may still prefer my own.
The Green Gallery (Room 58) is next, another setting for splendid festivities but was also a picture and mirror gallery.
And it was about the time I found the last Judith in the deepest area of the residence that I realized: they had no accessible indoor plumbing due to renovations and the nearest restroom was sixty galleries away.
No, I did not stop to take pictures. Only this one as a reminder: always visit the bathroom before entering a royal palace – unless you happen to be royal and have a valet with a chamberpot.