Tag Archives: architecture

Euro18: old Jewish cemetery

Zentral Friedhof.  Developed by the Viennese city government in the last third of the 19th century.  A land mass half the size of Zurich.  And a dead population larger than the current population of Vienna.

The old Jewish section of the cemetery was established in 1863, with more than 70K burials by the time Austria was occupied by the Third Reich.  Graves were desecrated on Kristallnacht. 

I’ve read various sources that note that the Jewish tradition does not decorate graves the way people in my faith tradition might do.  But the Jewish tradition does tend the graves to keep them tidy.

So on Sunday, I took a sobering walk through a cemetery where no one tends the graves. At all.

Viennese Jews were deported during World War II, and most did not return.  No one is left to tend these graves from the 1800s.

As you can easily see from the panoramic photo, the Jewish section (to the left) is not as tidy as the Protestant section on the other side of the road.

But here’s a lovely idea: watering cans for a deposit, just like grocery carts at Aldi!

By the way, the Wikipedia entry about Central Cemetery is fascinating read!

Euro18: Belvedere

The view from the Marble Hall.

The Upper Belvedere in Vienna is the home of centuries of Austrian painting and arts.

I spent an afternoon there on Thursday.  And what a lovely afternoon it was.

The Baroque Belvedere palaces, Prince Eugene of Savoy’s summer residence, were designed by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt, one of Central Europe’s greatest Baroque architects.  (Prince Eugene was a big military genius who was the second most important person in Austria, after the Emperor.)  Flash forward to 1955, and the treaty that returned Austria to an independent state was signed in the Marble Hall; and to 1970, when the SALT talks between the USA and USSR were held in the Marble Hall.  I walked in that very hall today.

The museum is justly famous for its collection of Gustav Klimt.  The entire collection is thoughtfully displayed and coherent in these grand rooms.

Here are some of my favorites from the day:

Iconic paintings of Empress Sisi and Kaiser Franz Joseph I —

A Rodin bust of Mahler–

A Munch painting —

Napoleon —

St. Sebastian —

Young Cupid — 

Stephensdom —

And of course, Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss —

I noticed several of these Messerschmidt busts in the Imperial Furniture Museum on Tuesday.  I’m glad to know more about them now!:

Here’s another painting that really grabbed me —

Klimt is everywhere.

Euro18: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

The Great Hall of the Austrian National Library is a Baroque wonder. Built by Emperor Karl VI in the 1700s, it has survived the empire, the Nazis, and the tourists.  And it’s stunning.

My visit on Thursday could have lasted hours.

Facing the center of the hall is the extraordinary collection from military hero and aesthete Prince Eugene of Savoy, who built the Belvedere as well.

Manuscripts of Mahler (top) and Bruckner.


Art Institute of Chicago

The view upon leaving the Art Institute on Sunday.

Most any trip to Chicago includes some time at the Art Institute of Chicago, called by some the greatest museum in the world.  I never tire of the Impressionists, of the miniature rooms, of the great masters, of the architecture collection, of the paperweight collection.

Hello, old friend.
Hello, old friend.

This trip included the America After the Fall exhibition, the collection of modernist chairs, and some Napoleon stuff.  And my old friends Messrs. Seurat and Monet.

From the 1930’s American exhibition, viewed during a private members-only morning:

Edward Hopper, 1939. New York Movie. This painting is filled with incredible suggestive detail.
Edward Hopper, 1939. New York Movie. This painting is filled with incredible suggestive detail.

I loved the symmetry of the view: a visitor and the painting he observes.
I loved the symmetry of the view: a visitor and the painting he observes.

Edward Hopper, 1940. Detail of Gas.
Edward Hopper, 1940. Detail of Gas.

Grant Wood. American Gothic.
Grant Wood. American Gothic.

Alice Neel, 1935. Detail of Pat Whelan.
Alice Neel, 1935. Detail of Pat Whelan.

Charles Sheeler, 1931. Classic Landscape.
Charles Sheeler, 1931. Classic Landscape.

Thomas Hart Benton, 1938. Cradling Wheat.
Thomas Hart Benton, 1938. Cradling Wheat.

Thomas Hart Benton, 1938. Detail of Haystack.
Thomas Hart Benton, 1938. Detail of Haystack.

Grant Wood, 1932. Daughters of Revolution.
Grant Wood, 1932. Daughters of Revolution.

Paul Cadmus, 1934. The Fleet's In. Notice the prim lady at the left, and her dog.
Paul Cadmus, 1934. The Fleet’s In. Notice the prim lady at the left, and her dog.

Paul Sample, 1933. Church Supper. I love the sly glances at the lady in pink.
Paul Sample, 1933. Church Supper. I love the sly glances at the lady in pink.


Wells Cathedral

Today was a full-day excursion to Wells Cathedral in the sleepy little city of Wells, not far from Bristol.  I toured the Cathedral, spent some time shopping (new shoes!), had a small picnic lunch on the walk by the moat, then rehearsed and sang Evensong.  Dinner completed the long day, at around 9.30 p.m. tonight.

Wells is a beautiful cathedral, and I took many photos today of the 650+ year-old stone work.

Railroad photos

Photos from the road today, aboard Amtrak 302 to Chicago from Saint Louis.

Canal tour


Amsterdam Centraal train yard from my hotel window.
Amsterdam Centraal train yard from my hotel window.

So that we could become a bit more attuned to Amsterdam, Trent and I took a canal tour this evening.  Then we went to a Brazilian restaurant nearby.


I’m just back from the Barbican Center, where I witnessed tonight a triumphant, energetic, all-out performance of Elgar’s First Symphony.

But first, Cambridge . . . .

Morning Eucharist today, on the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, was appropriately enough in the Nurse’s Chapel, more properly known as the Florence Nightingale Chapel.  I loved the window and the oil lamp.  (Click on that link; the window is the third picture from the left.)

And then I made my way via the Circle Line up to King’s Cross to take the 9.45 a.m. train to Cambridge.  Once I arrived, I spent the next couple of hours at Trinity College and at King’s, in addition to a couple of shops.  Now, I love Cambridge so much.  It’s everything that I envision a British university town to be.  And since it’s the first of those towns I visited, way back in 1995, it’s also idyllic and romanticised in my feeble imagination.  (Like that British spelling?)

The King’s Chapel is the single most beautiful room in the world.  Period.  Nothing comes close to the centuries-old wonder and splendor of the fan vaulting and stained glass in this most amazing place.  My poor pictures cannot do it justice.

A short cab ride took me to the home of Sir David Willcocks and his wife Lady Willcocks (Rachel).  We were joined for luncheon by an old friend of theirs, Elizabeth, who was up from London for the day.  Luncheon itself was truly splendid, and Sir David was in great form with stories and reminiscences.  We later filled an hour and ten minutes talking about his life, and of course about Howells.  I have the whole thing on a memory card.  Let’s just say that when I left their home around 4 p.m., I felt like I’d been on Mount Olympus listening to a god.

Sir David is in his 90’s, but has amazing recall of events and places and people.  Their two dogs, Bonnie and Clyde, long-hair Corgis both, took an instant liking to me.  I missed Samson the Feist terribly all of a sudden.  My thank-you gift to them was a jar of homemade apple butter.  Lady Willcocks indicated this was something new to them; I do hope they enjoy it.  And of course I had Sir David autograph his autobiography for me.

After the 50-minute train ride back to London, I made my way to the hotel, ate a couple of samosas I picked up along the walk from Waterloo Station, took off my tie, and then set out for the Barbican.

This was to be a concert conducted by Sir Colin Davis, but he pulled out of this gig a few days ago.  I instead saw the youngish Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko.  And damn, he was smoking on the podium tonight.  This guy, all 36 years old of him, knows how to handle an orchestra.  I regret that I didn’t get a chance to see Sir Colin at 85, as this was likely my last chance to see him conduct, but I’m glad for the concert tonight!

It’s now 11, and I have another start tomorrow, so the rest must wait.