The Viennese Museum of Fine Arts
In 1857 the construction of the Ringstraße, the monumental 5⅓-km-long boulevard around the Vienna city centre was ordered by Emperor Franz Joseph I, and one of the most prestigious edifices erected was the palatial Kunsthistorisches Museum, designed by architects Karl von Hasenauer & Gottfried Semper to house the imperial art collection of the Habsburgs. The museum opened in 1891 and features Egyptian & Near Eastern and Greek & Roman antiquities, a gallery of 16th- & 17th-century paintings, a collection of various art objects dating from the late Middle Ages to the 18th century, and a bunch of coins. The KHM is the largest art museum in Austria: we needed half a day to see just the picture gallery.
Among the many highlights of the picture gallery are Albrecht Dürer’s Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman, Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow, Jane Seymour, Queen of England by Hans Holbein the Younger, Summer by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, The Tower of Babel and Peasant Wedding by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and ten more of his paintings (out of a total of about forty worldwide), The Death of Cleopatra, by the man we all call Guido Cagnacci, because that is his name, and a Vermeer: The Art of Painting. As an admirer of the work of Canaletto & his nephew Bernardo Bellotto, I was pleased to find the latter’s View of Vienna from the Belvedere on display. My wife liked the museum’s impressive main staircase for its lovely (but hard to see) 19th-century lunette paintings by Hans Makart, Ernst & Gustav Klimt and Franz Matsch.khm.at