Monday, April 16, 2007

Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

I decided to take a further look at the world outside of Prague and took the train up to Dresden yesterday. On my previous visit there, it was a little hard to figure out where to go because so many things were closed from flood damage. This time the problem was that everything in Germany closes on Sunday, so once I got there I didn't end up finding an English-language booklet until too late in the day to bother.
Around mid-afternoon I located the main museum area, which I hadn't even gotten to last time. In addition to seeing a very small Otto Dix exhibition and a relatively large Cranach show, I was reminded that I did consider writing my dissertation on Jan Brueghel. I think my reasons for not doing so involved such considerations as 1) other than having written a paper on his father's seasonal paintings, I had no particular background in Flemish painting; and 2) improving my Czech seemed like a much more practical idea than taking up Dutch.

These pictures, which are from the museum's website, look too small on my screen to get much of the benefit of all Brueghel's amazing detail and color. The works are not large to begin with, but in general a person has to spend quite awhile examining them, which is always hard to do in a museum setting since very small paintings are not always hung at a convenient height and guards are opposed to visitors getting too close to the works.

Roelandt Savery is also generally good for interesting landscapes. In this case, I think the ruined tower in the background, although very nice in its way, is something of a distraction from the birds and foliage in the foreground.

There were also some excellent still lifes, such as this one by Balthasar van der Ast. Back when I used to take art classes, I detested the obligatory still lifes with the eternal cliché bottle surrounded by fruit (the irritating legacy of Cézanne, it seems), but while I had to learn to appreciate all those Cézanne still lifes (which are so much better than most of their progeny), this sort of still life has always greatly appealed to me.
The museum has some fine flower pieces, including a haunting item wherein a dead bird lies beside a despoiled nest. Another bird, presumably its mate (although this seemed dubious since they had the same plumage, so perhaps they were a same-sex pair and had adopted the eggs) looked rather depressed at the top of the picture. Since most of the picture is taken up with flowers, fruit, snails, and insects, one might miss the sad narrative. And, since I failed to note the artist, I didn't find the painting on the Web.


Blogger Kristen said...

I say travel while you're there!

And Toyen is much more fun than B, in my humble opinion.

April 17, 2007 1:59 AM  
Blogger Princess Haiku said...

I love train rides myself; it is a wonderful way to really see the world. When you are driving you are preoccupied hopefully. An interesting post.

April 17, 2007 2:36 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

I am a train enthusiast, but it would be nice if sometime, between Prague and Dresden, I could manage to pick out the side that has a view of the river. It's the right side northbound and the left southbound, but in the station you can't always be sure which is the front of the train.

April 17, 2007 10:19 AM  

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