Sunday, May 13, 2012

Best Painting Gallery Ever

When Bill and I entered the Gemälde Gallery we had no idea we were about to fall in love with one of the greatest painting collections of Europe. Just wait 'til you see what we're about to see!
The gallery's permanent home opened in 1998 and the small rooms are never overwhelming. Works are hung on velvet-covered walls and lit by natural light. In the words of the guidebook, "the paintings appear to 'ignite' via the diffused light so that colour is given its full hue, value and saturation."
In the first room we found some enormous 13th to 15th century paintings by German artists we weren't familiar with. I was amused by how Bill was dwarfed by the wings of the Wurzak Altar (1437).
Bill and I loved this painting of the two pregnant Marys on a 15th century altar piece from Cologne.
 These 15th century paintings often feature fascinating details of plants at the bottom of the canvas. Here's an excellent example of what you'll find if you look away from the main subject.
 We were delighted to find three paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder. I wish we has space to show them to you close up. The painting in the center is his The Fountain of Youth (1546) where old women approach the pool from the left and emerge young and strong on the right -- an entirely pagan vision of eternal life. It is flanked by Cranach's paintings of Venus and Cupid.
Northern Renaissance Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden is one of our favourite artists. The Gemäldegalerie has a half dozen of his works.  Portrait of a Woman with a Winged Bonnet (c. 1440/1445) has a jewel-like perfection.
Here's The Adoration of the Kings (c1470) by another Northern Renaissance Flemish painter, Hugo van der Goes. Enjoy the religious subject, then have a close look at the bottom of the canvas
for these marvelous details at the foot of one of the kings.
Canaletto's paintings of Venice have made him a household name. Here are two excellent examples -- Campo di Rialto and Grand Canal with the Rialto Bridge, both c.1758/63
Bill and I don't know Pietro Liberi but it is easy to enjoy his Diana and Acteon, c.1660. You'll remember from Greek mythology that Acteon is torn apart by Diana's dogs after she discovers him watching her bathing in the woods.
Here's a detail of one of the dogs from the bottom, right, of the painting. Looks more like an angry lap dog than a hunter. He's so cute!
I'm not ignoring this famous Caravaggio painting of the Cupid as Victor (1601/1602). I'm just moving on, as one must.
Bill liked how this couple seemed to join the group in The Healing of Tobias (c.1615/20) by a follower of Caravaggio.
Orazio Gentileschi, is a follower of Caravaggio. He's perhaps most famous today as the father of Artemesia Gentilischi -- one of the most famous female artists of the Baroque.
 But Orazio's Landscape with St Christopher (c. 1610/15) is original and fresh.
Visitors listen to their audio guides in front of Titian's Venus with the Organ Player (c.1550/52).
Note this crazy mutt at the bottom, right!
 Bill and I love Carlo Crevelli, a Northen Italian painter. Here's his Madonna with Saints (1488/89).
 The Gemäldegalerie has one stunning masterpiece after another. Here's just a detail from Giovanni Bellini's Mary with the Child, c.1430/31
 Just as we thought we'd seen everything we were astonished to see they had some paintings by Masaccio one of the greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance. How did they ever get these out of Italy?
Here's a detail from the right of the picture.
Here are the figures from the center.
 Here's the back of that Masaccio -- Nude Child and Dog (c. 1401).
 Sandro Botticelli is another painter whose name is a household word. The Gemaledgalerie has saved a handful of them for its final room. Madonna with Saints (1484/85) and Mary with the Child and Singing Angels (c.1477)
Admirers get up close with our cameras!
Look at these young Italian angels! Now imagine Christ growing up with one of these faces.
 I don't know about you but our feet are killing us and we're starving. We've just shown you a fraction of what we've seen. Time for a drink and some lunch.
 As is often the case in European art museums the Gemäledegalerie has a first-rate place to have lunch. Bill had a schnitzel with roast potatoes and a salad, I had the eggplant stew on rice and a side salad. All washed down with Italian red wine and German beer.
We're still exhausted but we're back in the game. We have the strength for a few more masterpieces. Here's a detail from Rembrandt's Suzanna and the Elders (1647)
And we can't leave without a good long look at Jan Vermeer's famous Girl with a Pearl Necklace (1662/65).
The Gemäldegalerie curators made a point of collecting some representative 18th century English paintings. Lady Sunderland by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Judge Joshua Grigby III  and John Wilkinson by Thomas Gainsborough.
Just as we're really ready to leave we find a painting by Bronzino -- another of our absolute favourite painters.
Here's a detail from his portrait of Ugolino Martelli (1536/7).
OK. Now we really have to drag ourselves home for a nap. We'll leave you with one last little Christ Child for the road. Here's a detail of Giovanni da Lodi's Mary and child with Saints (c. 1500/05)


  1. :-O WOOOooooooWWwoooowoowoow!!!

  2. What an amazing place, thank you!

  3. Tomatoes from Canada! love it! thanks for sharing!!!

  4. Welcome aboard, Iana and Alka. Glad you're enjoying. Much more to come!

  5. John, these are absolutely fabulous. I must go back to Berlin one day and do them all over again. I hardly remember these (maybe I didn't get to this museum being obsessed with seing Nefertitit!) thank you for the postings. How did you manage to take the pictures? Surreptitiously or ..actually I don't remember being told not to ...with no flash they don't /didn't seem to care!

  6. Lauretta, I'm so glad you're enjoying the pictures! One of the wonderful things about the state museums in Berlin is that they are very photo friendly -- nothing surreptitious about it -- so we've been able to take our friends along and kind of say, "Look at this!" and "How about this?" It's so much fun! Thanks for your comments -- we're in Berlin for another week and have many more posts up our sleeves...