Tag Archives: Kunsthistorisches Museum

The Restaurant at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, with Beef Goulash and a Side of Bruegel

Since my last posting in November, I’ve been in Vienna, except for one quick sidetrip to Budapest. I’m back in DC now, and I’ll be posting some travel pictures over the next few weeks. Not too many, though, because my last visits to both cities were fairly recent—I spent a couple of weeks in Vienna back in 2014, and some time in Budapest just last year. You can find those earlier posts in the archives. Rather than rehash my notes on museums and galleries, I’ll probably write more about restaurants and street scenes.

One of the reasons I returned to Vienna so soon was that the Kunsthistorisches Museum was commemorating the 450th anniversary of the death Pieter Bruegel the Elder by hosting a massive Bruegel exhibition. Over the past few years, I’ve developed something of an obsession with Bruegel—with all the Bruegels, really, and there are about half a dozen notable artists in that one extended family.

But for the reasons I posted above, I’m not going to post new images from the exhibition.  I’ve already posted a selection of Breugel paintings, which you can see at these links from my last visit to Kunsthistorisches Museum and from my trip to Brussels last Spring. Instead, I’m going to focus on something almost as important.


The Café-Restaurant at the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Image found on the Web.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
—Attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt.

“Small minds discuss people; average minds discuss events; great minds discuss restaurants.”
—Attributed to Fran Lebowitz.

With some notable exceptions, “museum food” doesn’t have a great reputation. My meal at the Kunsthistorisches was not one of those exceptions. The drink and the beef goulash were forgettable at best, but I wasn’t there for the food.

I was there for the room.

The magnificent Café at the Kunsthistorisches Museum is one of the Great Rooms, the kind of place that reminds you that you’re in one of the old imperial cities of Europe.

Image found on the Web.

Image found on the Web.

Pictures don’t begin to convey the breathtakingly beauty of this room.


Oh, yeah. One other thing…

I almost forgot to mention: The Bruegel exhibition?  Oh, It was glorious!

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Rubens at the Royal Academy of Art

I decided to go to London for the first couple weeks of Spring because I wanted to see three museum shows that, for a v brief period, were running concurrently.  The Pérez Simón Collection at Leighton House Museum was to close at the end of March, about a week after the Alexander McQueen show at the V&A was to open.  The third exhibition, “Rubens and His Legacy,” at the Royal Academy of Art, would end a week later.

Rubens at the RAA

The Courtyard at the Royal Academy of Art

I wrote about my love for Rubens in my notes on visiting the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna last Fall.  The show at the Royal Academy of Art displayed some of his masterpieces, and traced his influence on artists as diverse as Picasso and Rembrandt,  Delacroix and Constable.

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Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt

“Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt” was the star of the show, for obvious reasons.

R and B

Pan and Syrinx

I didn’t know this existed!  It’s a collaboration between Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder! Brueghel painted the landscape and Rubens the figures.

I would never have made to connection:  Rubens, with his huge, epic paintings, and Brueghel, with his mastery of intimate detail.

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The Garden of Love

The definition of “Rubenesque.”


I’ve mentioned my first overwhelming encounter with Rubens, when I experienced something close to Stendahl Syndrome in the Louvre, surrounded by the 24 paintings of his Marie de’ Medici Cycle.  The RAA had a video devoted to the de’ Medici paintings.

This video isn’t it, but it gives a nice overview:

Kunsthistorisches Museum III — Bruegel

The paintings of Peter Paul Rubens that I love the most are massive and “operatic,”  depicting tremendous events from history and mythology.   My favourite paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder capture the small details of everyday life.

About 45 paintings have been authenticated as Bruegel’s work.  Kunsthistorisches Museum possesses a third of them, giving it the largest Bruegel collection in the world.  I spent close to an hour in the Bruegel gallery, finding something new in each picture every time I looked at it.

Here are some of the paintings in the museum’s collection:

x  Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_Children’s_Games_-_Google_Art_Project

Children’s Games

My long-time favourite.  This is the first Bruegel painting that hooked me.   I used it as my computer wallpaper for months.

x1280px-Pieter_Bruegel the_Elder_-_Hunters _in_the_Snow_(Winter) _Google_Art_Project

Hunters in the Snow

x  Carnaval  Carême_Pieter_Brueghel_l'Ancien

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent

x Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_(Vienna)_-_Google_Art_Project

The Tower of Babel

xxxx 1280px-Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_Peasant_Wedding_-_Google_Art_Project

Peasant Wedding

Kunsthistorisches Museum II — Rubens

“Stendhal syndrome…is a psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to an experience of great personal significance, particularly viewing art.”
–Wikipedia

I experienced this once.  It was in the Louvre, in a huge gallery filled w/the works of  Peter Paul Rubens.  I was…transported.

I knew before I went to Vienna that two of my favourite  artists were well-represented at the Kunsthistorisches Museum.   Rubens  was one of them.

the-four-continents s

The Four Continents

xx  Rubens  - St Ignatius-the-miracle-of-saint-ignatius-loyola

The Miracles of Saint Ignatius Loyola

Peter Paul Rubens Philemon and Baucis

Philemon and Baucis

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The Feast of Venus

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Miracles of Saint Francis Xavier

Kunsthistorisches Museum I

My plan was to spend my last full day in Vienna at Kunsthistorisches Museum — the Art History Museum.  I knew from the start that a day would not be enough.

A year would not be enough.

That meant I had to prioritize ruthlessly, limiting myself to the Picture Gallery, which offers European art, and skipping the antiquities collections during this visit.   My first stop was the museum’s temporary Velázquez exhibition.

There was another, much smaller temporary exhibition that I’d been looking forward to:  “Arcimboldo:  Rediscovered” included two of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s “composite heads,” privately owned and shown to the public for the first time in their history.

The paintings turned out to be lesser works, but I’ve always been fascinated by Arcimboldo.   The National Gallery in Washington had a wonderful Arcimboldo show a few years ago that I probably visited a half dozen times.

K arch


Then it was on to a slow walk through the dozens of rooms that make up the Picture Gallery.  It was overwhelming.  Kunsthistorisches Museum has a magnificent collection.

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Albrecht Dürer’s “Adoration of the Trinity”

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Leonhard Beck’s “Saint George”