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Judith out and about: Vienna day 1

08 May

At this point in writing about the trip to visit Judith, I have surprised even myself with the immensity of the task. And as I prepare to write about the day in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, I am once again overwhelmed and delighted at the opportunity to see these artworks in person.  I mean, who wouldn’t be excited when this duo greets you at the front steps?

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Musicians in front of Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

 

Although those two were hard to miss,  it would be easy to miss Gustav Klimt’s pictorial cycle of the periods of art that decorates the arches above the entrance staircase if you are not prepared to look upward.  Of course, Vienna is the epicenter of everything Klimt – and if you are entranced by his work, the museum even provides a telescope in order to provide a close-up view of the soaring murals. If you follow in my footsteps, Do Not Miss these thirteen semi-hidden treasures!

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Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Pendentive paintings of the periods of art, 1890, Entrance staircase, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

 

Also before I launched into rapture over the many paintings of Judith in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, I would like to take a moment to comment on the doorways to the salons – specifically to the busts above the doorways.  I don’t know who they are, but in every salon they look down on the patrons from a protective perch.  Rather than being creepy or intimidating, I felt rather welcomed and encouraged by their presence.  So here is to the door monitors, whoever you are.

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Using the audioguide provided by the museum, I began with the Italian Renaissance painters who proceeded in somewhat chronological order. It was somewhat an orgy of artwork and Judith was a prominent participant …

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Paolo Veronese (1528-1588), “Judith with the head of Holofernes, c.1580, Oil on canvas, 111 x 100.5 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

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Salon IV, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

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Liss Johann (1597 c. -1631) Judith with the head of Holofernes,” 1622, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

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after Cristofano Allori (1577–1621), “Judith with the head of Holofernes (1),” 1613, Oil on canvas, 120.4 x 100.3 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

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Carlo Saraceni (1579-1620), “Judith Presenting the Head of Holofernes,” 1612, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

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Simon Vouet (1590-1649), “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” 1615-1620, Oil on canvas, 115 x 86 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

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Abraham Bloemaert (1564-1651), “Judith presents Holofernes’ head to the people,” 1593, Oil on oakwood, 34.5 x 44.5 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

 

With all this astounding artwork to admire, when I finally turned the corner to the Northern Renaissance I can hardly complain about one piece that is missing.  Hardly …

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… except it’s a Judith by Lucas Cranach the Elder.  The only artist who was more obsessed with Judith than I am. So a few tears were shed, a couple of curse words escaped and there may had been foot stomping and a pout.

So in place of Judith, I contemplated three Saxony princesses who look a lot like Judith.  Because in the end, most of Cranach’s portraits of Judith resemble each other.  A lot.  In fact, I think she might have borrowed clothing that belong to these princesses …

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Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), “Sybilla, Emilia, and Sidonia von Sachsen, Princesses of Saxony,” c.1535, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

 

However, my disappointment was short lived when I realized a side gallery held one of my favorite artists who did not paint Judith – Arcimboldo!!  Although he did create a stained glass window for her, Arcimboldo never immortalized Judith in produce – even though she would have been a ripe subject.

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Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526–1593), “The Winter,” 1563, oil on linden wood, 66.6 x 50.5 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

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Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526–1593), “The Water,” 1566, oil on linden wood, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

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Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526–1593), “The Summer,” 1553, oil on linden wood, 67 x 51 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

 

Yes, it was a frenzy of fine art but well worth it.  I outlasted the musicians and I’m ready for another day!

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Still standing, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

 

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Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Exploring

 

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