Kunsthistorisches Museum – Virtual Tour
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum in Vienna, is the largest art museum in Austria. The term Kunsthistorisches Museum applies to both the institution and the main building.
It was opened around 1891 at the same time as the Naturhistorisches Museum, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. The two museums have similar exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz.
The Emperor commissioned the museum to find a suitable shelter for the Habsburgs’ formidable art collection and to make it accessible to the public.
A Virtual Tour of the Kunsthistorisches Museum
- “Madonna of the Meadow” by Raphael
- “The Tower of Babel” by Pieter Brueghel
- “Massacre of the Innocents” by Pieter Brueghel the Younger
- “Perseus and Andromeda” by Giuseppe Cesari
- “Children’s Games” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- “The Hunters in the Snow” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- Samson and Delilah by Anthony van Dyck
- “The Return of the Herd” by Pieter Bruegel
- “Triple Portrait of a Goldsmith” by Lorenzo Lotto
- “The Peasant Wedding” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- “The Peasant Dance” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Highlights Tour of the Kunsthistorisches Museum
“Madonna in the Meadow” by Raphael depicts three figures in a meadow, all linked by looks and touching hands. The figures represent the Madonna with the Christ Child and Saint John the Baptist as a child.
The Madonna is shown wearing a gold-bordered blue mantle, set against a red dress, and with her right leg lying along a diagonal.
The blue symbolizes the church and the red Christ’s death, with the Madonna uniting the Church with Christ’s sacrifice.
In her hands, she holds up Christ, as he leans forward to touch the cross held by John. The poppy refers to Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection
“The Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder, depicts the construction of the Tower of Babel.
Bruegel’s depiction of the architecture of the tower, with its numerous arches and examples of Roman engineering, is reminiscent of a larger and taller Roman Colosseum.
Bruegel had visited Rome in 1552–1553 and had studied the Roman ruins. At first glance, the tower appears to be a steady series of concentric pillars. However, none of the layers lies at a true horizontal. The tower is built as an ascending spiral.
“Massacre of the Innocents” by Pieter Brueghel the Younger depicts the story from St Matthew’s Gospel.
King Herod ordered the death of all children in Bethlehem under the age of two after hearing from the wise men of the birth of Jesus.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted the original theme and composition of this painting. His son Pieter Brueghel, the Younger, made numerous follow-up versions, including this painting.
“Perseus and Andromeda” by Giuseppe Cesari dramatically portray the Greek mythological story of Andromeda. Perseus is depicted flying above on his winged horse Pegasus.
Perseus is in the process of attacking the sea monster with a sword, who turns to attack the hero. Andromeda’s white body is contrasted against the darker cliff and is depicted as pure innocence.
Pegasus and Perseus are highlighted with the hero’s vivid yellow cape.
“Children’s Games” by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder depicts children, who range in age from toddlers to adolescents, who, in some cases, look like miniature adults, playing games.
The games include roll hoops, walk on stilts, spin hoops, ride hobby-horses, mock stage tournaments, play leap-frog and blind man’s bluff, do handstands and play with toys.
They have also taken over the sizeable civic building that dominates the square, and in the top left-hand corner, children are bathing in the river and playing on its banks.
“The Hunters in the Snow” by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder, shows a wintry scene in which three hunters are returning from their hunt accompanied by their dogs.
The expedition does not appear to have been successful as the hunters seem to trudge through the snow with their heads bowed. The dogs similarly appear downtrodden and miserable.
One man carries the small corpse of a fox, to highlight the scarcity of the hunt. In front of one of the hunters in the snow are the footprints of a rabbit that has long gone.
“Samson and Delilah” by Anthony van Dyck depicts the scene after Delila has caused Samson to lose his extraordinary power.
Delila had discovered that Samson’s strength was derived by his long hair, which she cut off while he was sleeping. Without his long hair, his mortal enemy, the Philistines were able to capture him.
This painting was inspired by the episode from the Old Testament story of Samson and Delilah. Samson was a Hebrew hero of the ancient Israelites.
He had been granted immense strength to aid him against his enemies and which allow him to perform superhuman feats, including defeating an army of Philistines.
However, if Samson’s long hair were cut, then his vow would be violated, and he would lose his strength. Unfortunately, he fell in love with Delilah, who betrayed his trust.
“Triple Portrait of a Goldsmith” by Lorenzo Lotto depicts Bartolomeo Carpan, a friend of the artist. The “three faces” or in Italian “tre visi” of the portrait may be a pun on the subject’s hometown, Treviso.
Lotto shows his friend in full profile, face on, and right three-quarter profile from behind. Bartolomeo Carpan is dressed in dark clothes, wears a ring on his right hand, and in the front-on portrait holds a small object.
That object is a ring-box, suggesting the subject was a goldsmith. This painting had previously been attributed to other artists such as Titian until documentary evidence emerged for Lorenzo Lotto as the artist.
Lotto was influenced by existing medieval examples of triple portraits and by a lost triple portrait of Cesare Borgia by Leonardo da Vinci. This painting, in turn, influenced “Triple Portrait of Charles I” by Anthony Van Dyck.
“The Peasant Wedding” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder depicts the bride in front of the green textile wall-hanging, with a paper-crown hung above her head. She is also wearing a crown on her head, but the Bridegroom is not identified, and his representation is uncertain.
There has been much conjecture as to the identity of the groom in this painting. He may be the man in the center of the painting, wearing a dark coat and seen in profile. Or is he against the far wall, to the right of the bride, eating with a spoon?
It has also been suggested that according to contemporary customs, the groom is not be seated at the table but serving the food or drink instead. According to another theory, the groom may not attend the wedding feast per Flemish custom.
The feast is in a barn with two sheaves of grain with a rake, symbolize the harvest and the peasant’s agricultural life.
“The Peasant Dance” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder depicts the country fair’s opening dance, which involved a traditional leaping dance initiated by pairs of couples that preceded the general dance.
The foreground pair rushes in to become one of the couples that initiate the general dance as the bagpipe player starts the music. The running and jumping steps of the village-square dance would be in contrast to the formal dances performed at court.
This oil on panel painting is not signed nor dated but was painted in 1567, at the same time as “The Peasant Wedding.” The paintings are the same size and are part of a series illustrating peasant life
As in “The Peasant Wedding” and “The Wedding Dance,” Bruegel intended his paintings to have a moral message rather than simply being an entertaining portrayal of peasant life. Gluttony, lust, and promiscuity can all be identified in this picture.
- Name: Kunsthistorisches Museum
- City: Vienna
- Country: Austria
- Established: 1871-1891
- Type: Art Museum
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“I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame.
I simply follow my own feelings.”
– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Photo Credit: By Manfred Werner – Tsui (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons