Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Vienna Day 5, The Belvidere

Our first goal on Saturday morning was the Belvidere, the palatial home of Price Eugene of Savoy. Pricne Eugene is a very intersting character, and we will be looking up more about him. François-Eugène, Prince of Savoy-Carignan (October 18, 1663 – April 24, 1736), known as Prinz Eugen von Savoyen in German, was arguably the greatest general to serve the Habsburgs. He was the fifth son of Prince Eugène-Maurice of Savoy-Carignano, Comte de Soissons, grandson to Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, and Olympia Mancini, niece to the powerful Cardinal Mazarin. Eugene, as he was none, sought a comission in the French Army under Louis the 14th, but was not offered a command commensurate with his rank, and so went into the service of the Austrains under Emperor Leopold I, who were heavily engarged against the Turks. Eugene went on to distingush himself agains the Turks, against the French in the War of the Spanish Succession, and again against the Turks. A Field Marshal by the time he was twenty-five, he built his permamant residence, the Belvidere in Vienna's Third District, suburban at the time.

The Belvider consists of two palaces, the Lower Belvidere, and the Upper Belvidere, which is separated by the Lower by about half a mile of formal gardens. The Prince built the Lower first as a residence and then the Upper, which he used primarily for entertaining. While the Upper Belvidere has a splendid main hall, unusually decorated with mural so an ostrich and a hyena, most of the eamining rooms are very stark. By contrast, the Lower Belvedere is much more intereting, intimate, and cozy if a palace can be said to be cozy. The tromp-le-oeil ceilings, fantasy paintwork and intricate stonework make ti the architectual gem of the two, although it is outwardly less imposing.

like most of the publicly open palaces, the Belvedere also houses a n=musum collection, in this case consisting of Medieval ("Gothic") and Baroque art in the Lower and "Modern" Art in Upper. I found the Belvedie's collection the most enjoyable and lively of any of the art galleries we visited. The Baroque collection has numerous fine portraits, including the David "Napoleon" revioulsy mentioned, and is enlivened by a collection of grotesque and humorus busts by sculptor Franz Xavier Messerschmit. The Upper collection includes a great number of "Biedermeyer" period pieces by Waldmueller and others, which I like for their naturalism and realism, showing the people and places of the country as they then were. Upper Belvedere also has one of the better Klimt collections, including "The Kiss", possibly his best known work, and several others, plus works by Egon Schiele, and sculptures by Rodin, among many others.
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