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Once again, lovers of Northern Renaissance art will flock to Vienna as the Kunsthistorisches Museum is celebrating this fascinating era of art history with an outstanding exhibition: ‘Renaissance in the North, Holbein, Burgkmair and the art in the Age of the Fuggers’. The Habsburg’s were hugely indebted to the unfathomably wealthy Fugger family from Augsburg. Had it not been for their financial and political endorsement Maximilian I or Charles V would not have risen to become Holy Roman Emperor and some of the most consequential marriage alliances, for which the Habsburg’s are famous, would not have been forged. What the Fuggers and the Habsburgs of this age shared was their art patronage: Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein the Elder, Hans Burgkmair and many more created prestigious works of art for both of them. Our exploration of the famous and breathtaking collection of Habsburg treasures in the Kunstkammer, the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Hofburg offer the inspiring opportunity to set the art of this exhibition into context. Last but not least, we will explore the city’s unrivalled and splendid cityscape with its gleaming patchwork of mediaeval alleys and Renaissance squares, of Baroque palaces and Secession buildings making Vienna a metropolis of unique charm, where the spirit of Austria’s great Royal and Imperial tradition can still be felt.
Specialising in mediaeval art and in cultural politics of post-war Germany at the universities of Regensburg and Aberdeen, Dr Ulrike Ziegler is a well-respected member of Art Pursuits Abroad and has lectured at universities and for multiple cultural institutions, along with organising and leading many study tours in both Germany and Austria. Ulrike is now working on Art Pursuits Abroad’s German programme.
Tom Abbott studied psychology and art history in the US before completing his graduate research in the history of art and architecture in Berlin, where he now lives. Tom also studied at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris and has lectured around the world, specialising in architecture and art from the Renaissance to the Baroque and beyond.
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Morning flight with British Airways from London Heathrow to Vienna. Transfer by coach to your four-star hotel in the centre of Vienna. En route we will be introduced not only to the famous Ringstrasse and its architecture, but also to one of Otto Wagner’s most outstanding Secession buildings, the Postsparkasse. In the late afternoon, visit the Secession building, an icon of the Vienna Secessionists, a group of rebel artists breaking away from the long-established fine arts tradition, with the famous Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt.
On our leisurely morning walk we explore the Cathedral of St Stephen, focusing on the red-marble tomb of Emperor Frederick III. After a restorative break for “Kaffee und Kuchen” at the famous Zuckerbäckerei Demel, purveyors to the imperial court, the Treasury in the Hofburg awaits us with the insignia and jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, including the Imperial Crown and the Holy Lance. In the afternoon, we will visit the Imperial Library built by Johann Fischer von Erlach with its splendid State Hall which we will compare with the impressive Church of St Charles Borromeo by the same architect.
Today we visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The morning will be spent in the special exhibition ‘Renaissance in the North’ with its c. 150 paintings, sculpture, drawings and suits of armour showcasing exhibits from Berlin, Paris and New York. The rest of our visit is dedicated to the resplendent works from the Habsburg Cabinet of Arts and Curiosities in the Kunstkammer and highlights from the permanent collection of paintings. The delightful museum café and restaurant, located under the impressive cupola of the museum, allows for pleasurable restorative breaks.
In the morning, we take a coach excursion to Klosterneuburg. Founded in 1114 for a college of Augustinian canons, the monastery of Klosterneuburg houses innumerable treasures of art – from the famous Romanesque goldsmith and enamel altarpiece by Nikolaus of Verdun to the Baroque Imperial apartments of the Habsburgs. After lunch, visit the fascinating but little-known Imperial Court Furniture Depository which houses exhibits ranging from a travelling throne to the original ‘bistro chair’ invented by Michael Thonet in the middle of the 19th century.
Eighteenth-century splendour is the motto of this morning: in the Imperial Crypt – principal place of entombment for members of the House of Habsburg – we focus on the exuberant rococo sarcophagus of Emperor Charles VI and his wife Empress Maria Theresia. On our stroll around town we study some of Vienna’s most stunning private city palaces of the 18th-century including the Palais Kinsky, built by the leading Baroque architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt. The afternoon is free for individual exploration.
Our final visit will take us to the Upper Belvedere, home to an extensive collection of Austrian paintings including famous paintings like Klimt’s Kiss as well as an extensive collection of works by Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. After lunch, coach transfer to the airport for a late afternoon flight, returning to London Heathrow
Please note that it is necessary to have a good level of fitness as there will be at times extensive walking and inevitably some long periods of standing.
The 4-star Hotel Beethoven lies ensconced in culture and cuisine on the 'bohemian' Naschmarkt, opposite the Papagenotor at Theatre an der Wien, just a few minutes' walk from the Opera, the Musikverein, the Museumsquartier, the most traditional Viennese coffee houses and shopping streets.
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