Travel: Hofburg Imperial Palace Complex

Within the Hofburg complex, there is a dearth of iconic buildings that provide cultural insights into classical art and Vienna culture. Despite a limited amount of time, I sought ought two of these, namely the Albertina Museum and the Spanish Riding School.

The Albertina Museum houses one of the largest and most vital print rooms in the world. The collection numbers at 65,000 drawings and 1million old master prints, including, but not limited to graphic works, photographs, and architectural drawings. The building was erected on one of the last remaining fortifications, the Augustian Bastion. It lies on the original site of the Hofbauamt, which was built in the second half of the 17th century.

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Monet – The Water Lily Pond

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Henri-Edmund Cross – Les Petites Montagnes Mauresques

I readily enjoyed the large collection of impressionist painting which was comprised of the works of Monet, Van Gogh, and Cezanne. This period of artistic expression is by far one of my favorites. Impressionism uses blatant, yet subtle thin brush strokes, and emphasizes a picture of a moment. Each painting is incredibly textured and you can feel the hardened ridges of oil paint on the canvas, and the movement behind the artist’s bold, aggressive composition. Ordinary subjects are made extraordinary with the play of light and shadows.

Prints are pretty self-explanatory. 😛 Detailed engravings utilized such techniques as woodcuts, and etching. These were then printed on paper, and often expressed vital artistic, historical, or social motifs of the current period. My favorite collection included a set that depicted the artist’s take, namely  Pieter Bruegel Der Altere, on the seven deadly sins. Can you guess which print represents which evil?

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Unfortunately, due to my schedule, I was not present in Vienna during a show of the infamous Lipizzaners. As a condolence prize, I attended one of their daily practices instead, and observed how the students, and their mounts achieve harmonious precision. It was far duller than I planned :/. The majority of the two hours involved a trio of riders, exercising a rotating trio of horses in choreographed steps, and typical gaits, around the floor. I kept thinking that some more coordinating and fancy tricks would be put into action, but this was far from the case. Two hours later, I was only using half my attention, and multi-tasking via my Kindle.

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The highlight however, was watching the horses being led by the groomsmen from the stables into the ring. They are an absolutely gorgeous and majestic breed that date from the 800 A.D. It emerged as a powerful, yet agile horse in the 16th century, and became increasingly fashionable for the emerging prevalence of riding schools. In 1920, the Piper Federal Stud was selected as the main stud for the Vienna horses. Breeding is thus very selective, and only proven stallions can stud with mares that have passed rigorous performance testing.

I absolutely LOVE the grace and power you can sense within these majestic beats. It is hard to miss the noble air with which they hold themselves. A long time ago, it was my childhood dream to be a horse jockey or own a dude ranch, living the simple life in the mountains of Montana.

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