We visited the Belvedere, home of the Hapsburgs. Impressive building and grounds. This is the Upper Belvedere, the main palace and home to the major art collections they acquired over time.

Beautiful topiary. Out the back and also in front. Nice straight lines. You can see the Lower Belvedere behind the fountain. Joe thinks scenes from the film A Dangerous Method we’re filmed here – Freud and Jung deep in conversation strolling along beside these sculptured gardens. Very beautiful, especially from the upper windows of the palace, though they did need a haircut!

Patrick was very taken with this ivy decoratively growing over a wall.

Amazing hedges beautifully arranged, maze like around separate rooms and what looked like lawn swimming pools. A lovely herbaceous border down below the fountain, close to the Lower Belvedere and away from the main palace. Fantastic, towering hollyhocks.

Great statues all around both outside and inside the building. Patrick is taken with the horses – says most statues depict them in great distress – he has a point.

We started our art viewing in the Upper Belvedere. Lots of art, both permanent collections and special exhibitions. No photos allowed.

A Jubilee Exhibition celebrating celebrating 150 years of Klimpt was in situ. Thirty paintings on show, but somehow it didn’t seem to be so many. There were seven small rooms devoted to different periods. The Kiss dominated the end gallery – enormous, overbearing, but so familiar, almost kitsch. Judith and Salome on the side walls were smaller but more intense with beautiful vivid colours. There was another in this room I can’t remember what it was called – small abstract painting of mauves and blues – exquisite – in an oversized plain gold frame. Interesting. There were only three of his society portraits which I like a lot. They listed the women he had painted incuding the Australian connection, Hermine Gallia which is in the London Gallery. It’s history is described in Tim Bonyhady’s Good Living Street. (A similar story to the Family Ephrusi described The Hare With Amber Eyes). They were all quite lovely. There was another unfinished one which was interesting. There was a room of his landscapes which were all lovely – soft blues dominating. A Manet included in the room to show the similarities and contrasts was also lovely.

We visited the Modern Art – Interwar Period gallery. Lots of Egon Schiele with whom I was familiar, lots of others I had not heard of – Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Kirchner and Rudolph Whacker. Mostly good. Three women artists whose names I can’t remember! They were good. A hallway of self portraits was interesting.

We came upon a room of the Austrian artist Schindler and were very taken with all of his work. Wonderful landscapes.

Saw a Monet that was lovely. Two really lovely paintings by Ferdinand George Waldmuller. It was worth coming to the Belvedere to see the great painting by David of Napoleon on his white horse – I’m surprised that it’s not on the brochure. Wonderful. In a wonderful setting – huge, decorated room. I also really loved an amazing ring of sculpted heads by someone called Franzon’s Caver Messerschmidt. Small heads each with an amazing expression – due to them all being people undertaking some sort of weird therapy.

I was also really pleased to see a work by Marina Abramovic, Golden Mask. Continuous film in a small television monitor on a pedestal. She is looking directly, unblinking at the camera. Her head is partially covered in gold foil and bits flap about. She is incredibly still. Interesting. I saw a film about her work at Melbourne International Film Festival Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present. She’s fantastic. Seeing this work here in the Palace of the Hapsburgs was a surprise – and a bonus.


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