Friday, 26 May 2017
Harrods has been invaded by a swarm of blue butterflies. It's all part of their summer Social Butterfly campaign, which celebrates the British social season with a promotion of butterfly-themed products throughout the store such as Sophia Webster's signature butterfly shoes, and Bottega Veneta's covetable butterfly bags. There are also a number of Harrods own brand butterfly products, and these impressive window displays.
The Valentino window display features these wonderfully embroidered and beaded butterfly dresses from their SS17 campaign. In-store meanwhile, is this large butterfly chandelier installation by paper artist Zoe Bradley.
87-135 Brompton Road
Tuesday, 23 May 2017
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is yet another Viennese treasure trove for art and anitiquity lovers. It is a huge, neo-classical building that is every bit as sumptuous as any of the other palaces in or around the outskirts of the city, and is yet another product of the incredible wealth of the Habsburg empire. Interestingly it has an identical twin building facing it, which houses the Austrian Natural History Museum. Both buildings have been described as the Habsburgs' magnum opus. The Kunsthistorisches museum consists of a huge picture gallery, which encompasses the best of European, Renaissance and Baroque paintings, a gallery of Egyptian, Greek and Roman treasures and an amazing Kunstkammer - cabinet of art and curiosities. The entrance hall is jaw-dropping. It's a vast space of marble, gold leaf, beautiful painted panels and a vast ceiling mural.
There is so much art to look at here it can seem overwhelming, very much like a visit to the Louvre in Paris. I just kept moving until I happened upon something that caught my eye. The following are but a fraction of the numerous paintings in the museum that I saw which were particularly pleasing to my eyes in the picture galleries.
Albrecht Dürer - Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman (1505)
Albrecht Dürer - Portrait of Maximillian I (1519)
Lucas Cranach The Elder - Adam & Eve (1510-20)
Hans Memling - Adam & Eve (c1485)
Hans Memling - Small Tryptich of St John The Baptist, (1485-90)
Rogier van de Weyden - Virgin With Child, (1450)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Tower of Babel, (c1563)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Peasant Wedding, (1567)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Massacre of the Innocents, (1565-7)
Titian - Danae, (after 1554)
Giorgione - Boy With An Arrow, (1505)
Giorgione - Portrait of Francesco Maria Della Rovere (1502)
Titian - Bravo, (c1515-20)
Hendrick Terbrugghen - The Lute Player (1626)
Arcimboldo - Summer (1563)
A wonderful trio of Rembrandts
Vermeer - The Art of Painting (1665)
An absolutely beautifully executed painting.
An absolutely beautifully executed painting.
Velazquez - The Infanta Margarita (1653)
Velazquez - Margarita Teresa in a White Dress (1656)
Velazquez - Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress (1673)
Velazquez - Maria Teresa in a Blue Dress (1652-53)
So great to see this grouping of Velazquez paintings of the Infanta Maria Teresa in the flesh, which were the initial inspiration for my Dress series (here).
The Kunstkammer in the museum consists of 20 rooms of rare treasures created from the finest and most precious materials available. Many would have no actual practical purpose, but would be acquired merely as conversation pieces, and as yet more ostentatious displays of Habsburg wealth. The craftsmanship and quality of the pieces is the absolute best, and befits the most precious metals and gemstones from which the pieces are made. The large lapis, gold and ivory salver above was simply gorgeous, as is this silver insect box. The detail on the insects and foliage is pretty amazing.
This ivory carving of Goddess Daphne being transformed into a tree is an amazingly intricate piece of work.
The piece everybody wants to see in the Kunstkammer though, is the allegorical Benvenuto Cellini Saliera (salt cellar) below. It was not cast from a mould but was exquisitely modelled and hammered by hand into shape. It consists of rolled gold, ivory and enamel on an ebony base. The male god represent the sea, and the female figure the planet earth. A small vessel next to the male figure is meant to hold salt, whilst the temple next to the woman is for pepper. This sculpture has an estimated value of $60 million. The Saliera was stolen in 2003 when the museum was covered in scaffolding for renovation work. It was recovered in 2006 when the thief was recognised and handed himself in.
On the ground floor of the museum are sections devoted to collections of Greek, Roman and Egyptian art and antiquities. The ceilings in the Egyptian section were particularly decorative below. The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an exhaustive trawl through the history of art in the most magnificent surroundings. It was a really rewarding visit this, to see the hidden treasures of the Habsburgs, and the interior decoration and architectural design of the museum are stunning.