Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

The Gemäldegalerie is an art museum that houses one of the world’s best collections of European paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Its collection includes masterpieces from such artists as Dürer, Holbein, Van der Weyden, Van Eyck, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Vermeer.

A Virtual Tour of the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Masterpieces of the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

  • “Bathsheba” by Sebastiano Ricci
    • “Bathsheba” by Sebastiano Ricci depicts the famous story from the Hebrew Bible in which Bathsheba was having a bath when King David saw her bathing and lusted after her. King David first saw Bathsheba while walking on the high roof of his palace. She was very beautiful, and he ordered inquiries about her. He found out that she was Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, a soldier in David’s army. David so desired Bathsheba that he organized to meet her and later made her pregnant. The text in the Bible does not explicitly state as to whether Bathsheba consented or not.
  • “Santa Maria della Salute in Venedig vom Canal Grande” by Canaletto
    • “Santa Maria della Salute in Venedig vom Canal Grande” by Canaletto depicts the Santa Maria della Salute (Saint Mary of Health), a large Roman Catholic church in Venice, which is also one of the most recent of the so-called plague churches. It stands on the narrow finger between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, making the church visible when entering the Piazza San Marco from the water.
  • “Portrait of Jakob Muffel” by Albrecht Dürer
    • “Portrait of Jakob Muffel” by Albrecht Dürer depicts the burgomaster of Nuremberg, who was the chief magistrate of the city. It was probably commissioned for an official celebration and exhibited at the city’s town hall. The cultural flowering of Nuremberg, in the 15th and 16th centuries, made it the center of the German Renaissance. In 1525, the year before this painting, Nuremberg accepted the Protestant Reformation, and in 1532, the religious Peace of Nuremberg, by which the Lutherans gained significant concessions, was signed in the city.
  • “Portrait of Hieronymus Holzschuher” by Albrecht Dürer
    • “Portrait of Hieronymus Holzschuher” by Albrecht Dürer depicts a local patrician who was a senator and member of the executive council in the city of Nuremberg. It was probably commissioned for an official celebration and exhibited at the city’s town hall. The cultural flowering of Nuremberg, in the 15th and 16th centuries, made it the center of the German Renaissance.
  • “Woman with a Pearl Necklace” by Johannes Vermeer
    • “Woman with a Pearl Necklace” by Johannes Vermeer portrays a young Dutch woman, dressing with yellow ribbons, pearl earrings, and a pearl necklace. Vermeer depicted many women in similar circumstances in interior domestic scenes. The same woman also appears in The Love Letter and A Lady Writing a Letter.
  • “The Generosity of Scipio” by Jean II Restout
    • “The Generosity of Scipio” by Jean II Restout depicts a famous story about the Roman general Scipio during his military campaign in Spain in the Second Punic War. Despite having a reputation for womanizing, Scipio resisted his usual brutal treatment of attractive female “barbarian” prisoners; he instead summoned her parents and fiancé, who arrived with a ransom of treasure. Scipio is depicted with his palm raised to gesture that he gives the defeated Price his bride. He refused the generous ransom and returning her to her fiancé Allucius, who, in return, became a supporter of Rome.
  • “Seascape” by Arnoldus van Anthonissen
    • “Seascape” by Arnoldus van Anthonissen depicts a three-masted battleship navigating through stormy waters out to sea. The fishing boat in front forms a counterbalance to the inclination of the mast and sail. The red color of the clothing of the figures in the rowboat standout in the grey of the sky and sea. The signature “AA” can be found on the wooden pole that sticks mysteriously out of the waves, on the bottom right.
  • “Christ on the Mount of Olives” by Matthias Stom
    • “Christ on the Mount of Olives” by Matthias Stom depicts Christ kneeling at a rock, with his hands folded in fervent prayer, turning to the angel, who is close to him physically and spiritually. Christ’s eyes are following the angel’s powerful gesture, pointing to the cup, mystically glowing at the left of the picture. Judas and the soldiers are shown at the right in the background. The white light of a candle lights them. The shadowy features of this group underline the threatening nature of the event. The sleeping disciples and any detailed representation of the location are omitted.
  • “Netherlandish Proverbs” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
    • “Netherlandish Proverbs” by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder is also called Dutch Proverbs. It depicts a scene in which humans and, to a lesser extent, animals and objects, offer illustrated examples of Dutch proverbs and idioms. This painting is consistent with the common themes in Bruegel’s paintings on the absurdity, wickedness, and foolishness of humans. This painting is a catalog of human folly, and the people depicted show the characteristic blank features that Bruegel used to portray fools. Proverbs were very popular in Bruegel’s time. A hundred years before Bruegel’s painting, illustrations of proverbs had been first used in the Flemish “Books of Hours.” The book of hours was a Christian devotional book that was popular in the Middle Ages.
  • “Solly Madonna” by Raphael
    • “Solly Madonna” by Raphael is a devotional icon showing Mary reading as the baby turns toward the book. The Child holds a goldfinch, prefiguring the Passion, an event prophesied in the book. This is an early work by Raphael showing the influence of Raphael’s teacher Perugino. Raphael created several different Madonna and Child compositions centered on the motif of the Madonna holding a book.
  • “Colonna Madonna” by Raphael
    • “Colonna Madonna” by Raphael depicts Mary distracted from her reading by Jesus. The child looks to the viewer while reaching for her neckline, wanting to nurse. A complex torsion to these figures shows Raphael’s mastery when this was painted in1508. It was Raphael’s first year in Rome and the tonality suggests that the painting may not be finished. The Colonna Madonna is named after the Colonna family an Italian papal noble family.
  • “Susannah and the Elders” by Rembrandt
    • Susannah and the Elders by Rembrandt depicts a religious theme in art that was not as common in Holland due to the rise of Protestantism and a loss of favor for the Catholic traditions. However, Rembrandt continued to explore Biblical themes, despite their waning popularity in Holland. Rembrandt initially based his painting on one by his teacher, Pieter Lastman. However, it is notably different in composition except for some similarities in the background. Rembrandt’s figures are all active with one elder taking hold of Susanna’s clothing while she twists to get away.
  • “Moses with the Tablets of the Law” by Rembrandt
    • “Moses with the Tablets of the Law” by Rembrandt depicts Moses about to break the original two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. According to the biblical narrative, the first set of tablets were written by the finger of God. The tablets were smashed by Moses when he was enraged by the sight of the Children of Israel worshipping a golden calf. The second set of tablets was later chiseled out by Moses and rewritten by God. According to the traditional teachings of Judaism, they were made of blue sapphire stone as a symbolic reminder of the sky. According to Exodus, the tablets were stored in the Ark of the Covenant.
  • The Man with the Golden Helmet by Circle of Rembrandt
    • “The Man with the Golden Helmet” by Circle of Rembrandt is masterful artwork that had previously categorized as a work by Rembrandt for many years. Doubts were expressed as to its provenance in 1984 by a Dutch curators’ commission specifically created to investigate Rembrandt’s works of questionable authenticity. Essential details in the painting’s style did not match the style of Rembrandt’s known works. It is now believed to have been painted by one an unknown Rembrandt student or someone in his close circle. These artworks of questionable authenticity have been labeled as created by the “Circle of Rembrandt.” The Man with the Golden Helmet has his head turned slightly to the right, and his eyes are cast down. He wears a dark coat with purplish-red sleeves and a martial metal collar as protection around his shoulders. Most distinctly he wears a richly wrought golden helmet with ear-pieces and a plume of short white and red feathers.

German Proverbs and Quotes

Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

    • Name:              Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
    • City:                  Berlin
    • Country:          Germany
    • Opened:          1830
    • Type:               Art Museum
    • Location:         Matthäikirchplatz, 10785 Berlin, Germany

A tour of Germany’s Museums

Berlin Museums

Munich Museums

Hamburg Museums

Frankfurt Museums

Dresden Museums

Nuremberg Museums

German Proverbs and Quotes

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“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”
– Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

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Photo Credit:  JOM