Inspirations from Berlin

This Autumn I was lucky to be able to spend a few days in Berlin absorbing some amazing and inspiring paintings and sculpture.

Not since a whirlwind visit around the wonderful Galleries of Vienna had I had such an opportunity to so fully immerse myself in collection after collection of world-class art, (except the usual stints around London of course)! After walking miles around a number of Berlin collections including the Neue Nationalgalerie, Gemaldegalerie and the Neues Museum, the new home of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, three art works really shone out.

For many years I have wanted to see the exquisite Nefertiti Head, found in the Neues Museum. She certainly didn’t disappoint. After seeing room after room of amazing Egyptian sculpture and artifacts, anticipation growing, we found her within the most perfect setting. The museum has recently undergone an incredible restoration and is a wonderful and sympathetic setting for it’s exhibits.

The permanent collection of the Gemaldegalerie, has masterpiece after masterpiece hanging on it’s walls, it is quite awe-inspiring. With exceptional paintings by Holbein, Van Eyck, Rogier Van der Weyden, Vermeer, Fra Filippo Lippi and Botticelli to name but just a few it is difficult to select from such a hugely inspiring and important collection. But two works did stand out for me, in both their exceptional quality, clarity and the way in which they draw their viewer in.

Both subjects make direct eye-contact with us, they hold our gaze,  each creating a very contrasting mood and atmosphere.

Rogier van der Weyden’s Portrait of a Woman is a beautiful portrait in which the sitter meets our gaze with a thoughtful yet quizzical look. The portrait has a quietness and tranquility about it. The womans head-dress is masterfully painted, it’s form and depth wonderfully executed.

Caravaggio’s Victorious Cupid however holds our gaze in quite a different way! This subject draws us in with his cheeky smile and seductive pose. The painting is a joy to see and makes us smile in return.

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This entry was posted in Egyptian Portraits, Gemaldegalerie, Neues Museum Berlin, Nudes, Portraiture. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Inspirations from Berlin

  1. David Woodall says:

    Hello Adele, I’ve always loved the Nefertiti head and remember trying to draw it from photographs when I was at college.
    I read an article recently by David Hockney who said he’d enjoyed reading EH Gombrich’s THE STORY OF ART which I’ve had for years and only skipped through and it prompted me to start reading it, in it he explains that the egyptians drew their figures the way they did to prepare for the after life, ie the foot is best recognised from the side, the torso from the front and the face from the side so that when they go into the next world they can be accurately reassembled but all beautifully proportioned. Now I understand.

    • Hello Dave, yes she is magnificent and would be wonderful to draw, if only there had been enough time! The weight of her crown against the delicacy of her head and neck are so beautiful.
      For most of the time the crowds were not too bad around her either, (unlike the Rosetta stone in the BM). I did have the luxury of being the only one there, except for the guard at one stage. That would never happen in London!

      Gombrich is always a good read! Hockney has made some wonderful drawings during his visits to Egypt.
      See you soon

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