The Belvedere Museum in Vienna is one of the most important art museums in Austria; it is housed in the famous baroque building complex from which it takes its name.
The Baroque complex
The Belvedere palace (Schloss Belvedere) is actually an ensemble of various buildings and gardens in central Vienna, originally commissioned between the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century by the Prince Eugene of Savoy as a Summer residence.
The complex is composed of two main buildings located at the opposite ends of a large French-style garden: the Upper Belvedere (Oberen Belvedere) and the Lower Belvedere (Unteren Belvedere), both designed by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt; the Lower Belevedere also includes the Orangery, a smaller building recently converted into a temporary exhibition space.
Unanimously considered one of Vienna’s architectural jewels, It is quite evident that the building complex was designed with the Palace of Versailles in mind, yet incorporating those elements which make Austrian baroque architecture so distinctive.
Upper Belvedere, exterior view, photo by Ian Southwell
What to see at the Belvedere
The Belvedere showcases a permanent collection primarily dedicated to Austrian art from the Middle Ages to the present; yet, also artworks from other European countries complete the collection.
The collection is presented in the Upper Belvedere and includes an impressive array of sculptures and paintings by Austrian masters such as Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller , Heinrich Füger, Gustav Klimt (including the famous “The Kiss”), Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. International artist represented include Jean Louis David, Edvard Munch, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Max Beckmann, among others.
The sections dedicated to Viennese Secession and French Impressionism are widely recognized as among the most important in the world in their respective fields.
Upper Belvedere and gardens, aerial view, photo © Belvedere, Vienna
Vaulted room in the Upper Belvedere, photo © Belvedere, Vienna
Gustav Klimt, Kiss, 1908/1909, © Belvedere, Vienna, Oil on canvas 180 x 180 cm
While the Upper Belvedere houses the permanent galleries of the museum, the Lower Belvedere and its Orangerie usually accommodate major temporary exhibitions, often covering the relationship between Austrian and International artists.
The museum also includes a library, a research center, a restaurant, a cafeteria, and three shops.
Lower Belvedere, exterior view, photo © Belvedere, Vienna
The “Gold Cabinet” at the Lower Belvedere, photo © Belvedere, Vienna
The Research Center of the museum, photo © Belvedere, Vienna
Along with the galleries located at the Belvedere Palace, the museum network includes two other venues in Vienna: the Winter Palace, which houses exhibitions of international art, and the 21er Haus, dedicated to the work of modern and contemporary Austrian artists.
Cover image: Upper Belvedere, Southside, photo © Belvedere, Vienna
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