Schloss Schönbrunn, Vienna

Although the sun would break through a bit later, Schönbrunn Palace was set off by heavy, brooding clouds when I first arrived on a Sunday morning. As I walked from the nearby subway station to the Palace gate at 7:30 am, I saw virtually no one. Though he is a little hard to make out in the relatively low-res photo for web posting, there is a lone jogger just to the right of the staircase in the photo. In any case, my plan was to take an early morning walk around the Palace grounds and later buy a ticket to go into the Palace. The walk through the beautiful grounds was thoroughly enjoyable, and went just as planned. However, when I went to buy a ticket for the Palace, the earliest I could enter was after 1:30 pm. Typically, I had done zero research or advanced planning for my visit, and thus was not aware there is a limit to the number of visitors inside the facility at any given time, and one has to reserve a time when buying a ticket. I wanted to go inside, but with only three and a half days in Vienna, it just did not make sense to spend pretty much an entire day at the Schönbrunn, so I went in search of brunch and coffee instead.

Schloss Schönbrunn served as the principal summer residence of Austria’s Hapsburg rulers from around the year 1600 until early in the 20th century. Several kilometers from the Hofburg in the center of old Vienna, even today the Schönbrunn and its extensive landscaped grounds are removed from the bustle of contemporary Vienna. The imposing Baroque-style edifice that appears in this photograph was completed in the 1740s during the reign of Hapsburg empress Maria Theresa. Wikipedia informs us that the palace has 1,441 rooms. The Schönbrunn and the grounds are preserved, restored as needed, owned and managed by a limited-liability company, which is, in turn, wholly-owned by the Austrian state (Wikipedia). Although I did not get inside the palace itself, everything I saw outside was immaculate and in excellent condition. Very impressive.

The main gate to Schönbrunn Palace.

And yes, the Schönbrunn has more statues featuring scantily clad classical figures in what appears to be uncomfortable repose.

The Albertina Museum, Vienna

I took time off from exploring to visit the Albertina. I spent most of my time looking at the museum’s marque exhibit “Michelangelo and Beyond,” an examination of how the master’s treatment of the human body, based on his extensive study of human anatomy, has had an enormous impact on painting and sculpture that can be seen in the works of numerous artists who followed Michelangelo. Definitely worth the price of admission.

The Burghers of Calais, Auguste Rodin

A visit to the Rodin Museum in Paris was not on my list of things to do. But I walked by, needed a break from the hot day, there was no line, and in I went. Talk about a voyage of discovery. My exposure to Rodin prior to this visit amounted to The Thinker and in the case of that work, I learned during my museum visit that there are multiple castings and different versions of the statue. I found The Burghers of Calais pictured here awe-inspiring. The work was commissioned by the city of Calais to commemorate the city’s role in an event during the Hundred Years’ War. Rodin’s design was chosen from among several submissions. The final work caused considerable controversy when it was unveiled in 1889 – it was not the larger-than-life heroic allegory the city had had in mind. Instead it is a very engaging study of the six very human burghers who were central characters in the historical event commemorated. Like many of the works in the Paris Rodin Museum, this is a plaster cast of Rodin’s design.