Going to Austria? Make sure not to miss the Imperial Treasury, and the amazing modern architecture of the Secession building (with paintings by Klimt) and the Postal Savings Bank by Otto Wagner. And if you can't get there in person, be a virtual tourist with Smarthistory as your guide.
Josef Maria Olbrich, The Secession Building
The gleaming white walls, lack of windows, gilded inscriptions and strange floating sphere of golden leaves looks like a temple built by some secretive, mythic people.
Nazi looting: Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally
This portrait is one of thousands stolen by the Nazis, and its story shows that the madness didn’t end with WWII.
The Vienna Genesis
Silver ink on purple parchment—what luxury! This is the oldest surviving illustrated biblical text.
Matthew in the Coronation Gospels and Ebbo Gospels
Two different portraits—it’s St. Matthew in both, but watch the style change from smooth modeling to frenzied brushwork.
The Story of Jacob from the Vienna Genesis
A family outing begins with a river crossing and ends with Jacob wrestling an angel. This story twists and turns.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hunters in the Snow (Winter)
Join the birds and soar through this frozen landscape. On the pond below, playful scenes warm the air.
Johannes Vermeer, The Art of Painting
A well-dressed artist paints Clio, the muse of history, but as with any Vermeer, the real subject here is light.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peasant Wedding
Bruegel offers up a slice of peasant life. Despite our historical distance, this is a wedding party we can attend.
Giorgione, Three Philosophers
These three learned men differ in age, outlook, and dress. But do they represent religions, eras, or philosophies?
Jan Gossaert, Saint Luke Painting the Madonna
Without historical sources, what gives an artist authority to depict the divine? Gossaert channels St. Luke.
Michael Pacher, St. Wolfgang Altarpiece
This “total work of art” unites sculpture, painting, and architecture—and connects real space to a visionary realm.
Parmigianino, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror
What a show-off! Hoping to win a papal commission, the confident young painter foregrounds his hand—and his skill.