Saturday, June 30, 2018

On the Road: Munich (June 30, 2018)

Bols: The Governers of the Amsterdam Wine Merchants' Guild (1659)
Aching feet, but I'm happy. I spent the whole day at the Pinakotheken—Alte, Neue, and der Moderne, in Munich. Half the Alte Pinakothek (yes, half of the entire museum) was closed for renovation, which was very disappointing, but perhaps a blessing in disguise. I would probably not have made it to the other two museums otherwise.

I can't complain. I got to see a few paintings that I've always wanted to see—in particular The Governers of the Amsterdam Wine Merchants' Guild (1659), by Bols. I had a postcard of this painting pinned over my desk at work for many years, although I can't remember where I got the card. The figure at far left, is a servant, according to the wall label, not one of the governors. He holds a pipette for sampling wine and a tastevin, the only indicators of the profession of the main subjects. Seeing the painting in person, I noticed that, aside from the marvelous faces, the cushion on the stool (lower right) is particularly well done; it seemed so real, I wanted to touch it.

Rubens: The Hippopotamus and Crocodile Hunt (c. 1616)
The early German section of the museum was open, as were the Reubens rooms. Among the paintings by Rubens, I especially wanted to see The Hippopotamus and Crocodile Hunt (c. 1616) as my mother once saw it and, impressed by it, had on a number of occasions described it to me. It's quite impressive—large and full of action. I love the expression on the face of the man top center (half obscured by the raised arm of the man in the white turban to right of him). The hippo, too, is wonderful. The wall label suggests Rubens may have based his depiction of the hippo on a stuffed hippo that was on display in Rome in 1601, although the painting is dated to about 15 years later than that.

Cranach the Elder
Early German portraits and religious figures have a certain distinctive quirkiness that appeals to me deeply. The bodies are sometimes a bit exaggerated or not quite right in some way (yet oddly convincing). The clothing is often interesting. The figures in portraits usually hold something of interest in their hands that indicates a profession or social rank. There are often inscriptions in otherwise blank areas of the image. Interesting hats abound. Memling, Balding, and the Cranachs are quite familiar. It was thrilling to see Cranach the Elder's Lucretia, with her cloak so diaphanous as to be virtually non-existent (although it is more apparent in person than in my photograph here).

Bernhard Strigel: Conrad Rehlinger the Elder (left)
and The Eight Children of Conrad Rehlinger (right)
In addition to these, I saw a number of very strong works by one Bernhard Strigel that impressed me, and, fittingly, a portrait by a painter named Maler (meaning "painter" in German) that I liked very much, also a portrait by a painter named Meulich. Strigel, Maler, and Meulich I'd never noted before, although chances are I've seen their work elsewhere. In the French section, it was also fun to see one of the several versions of Resting Girl on a Sofa by François Boucher (1753).

Boucher: Resting Girl on a Sofa (1753)
There were too many very beautiful paintings to mention or to show here. Again, maybe it was a blessing that half the museum was closed....

Hans Muelich: Portrait of Andreas Ligsalz
Hans Maler: Portrait of Wolfgang Ronner

Hans Baldung: Portrait of Christoph I, Margrave of Baden

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