Town Hall Tour and The Leopold Museum on a rainy day

Vienna Travel Blog

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I love Vienna in the rain……but, not in April. April should be about breezy crisp days with the sun warming your skin and forcing the buds that have been waiting… open and bring new life and color, pushing away the long, hard winter. But, not today. Today is rained.

It rained so much and so hard that I didn’t even leave the hotel until almost noon. We stayed in a business park area near to Schonbrunn that is not serviced by tram or metro and even has bus issues. The is a free shuttle from the business park across the street to Philadelphiabruke / Meidling station. It comes every 10 minutes during most of the day so…..can’t beat that.

After a couple of metro changes I returned to the surface at Ratuis (The town hall).

I had read that the city offers a guided tour of the building on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 13:00. Having admired the building several times, I relished the thought of seeing what was inside.

I entered the waiting area, which was filled with many people. The reception told me that the tour would start momentarily. She didn’t tell me, however, that the tour would be in German, only! The highlights of the tour were; the council room and it’s chandelier, the great hall overlooking the front courtyard and garden, and the more intimate room where different regions of Austria had just finished meeting. Their regions banners still on the table at their respective seats.

It was still raining when I left. The flowers in the garden were in bloom, the trees, as well.

In the gray of the day, it was a respite.

As the rain was relentless, I decided to spend the afternoon at a museum. I chose the Leopold Museum as I had not been to it, yet. 

The collection of 19th and 20th century Austrian art that Rudolf Leopold amassed over many decades, with the support of his wife Elisabeth, is one of the most important of its kind. It is also the most varied and unusual. Its quality arises not so much from the fact that it reflects established art-historical pigeon-holes, instead Rudolph Leopold focussed on his personal discovery of what he believed to be unjustly overlooked artists.  

In the summer of 1950, Leopold discovered Egon Shiele, an artist whose drawings, watercolors, and paintings would hold an never-ending fascination.

He realized that Shiele’s works were on par with the art of the Old Masters and that, moreover, his subjects were relevant to the here and now. 

The ultra conservative painter of historical scenes, Christian Griepenkerl, in whose master classes Schiele began his studies, could summon up little understanding for his unconventional pupil. However, in his first year of studies, Schiele was to encounter Gustav Klimt, who proved to be a fatherly friend and the first person to encourage him. Schiele left the academy after three years and founded the „Neukunstgruppe“ (New Art Group), which was soon to become an established part of Viennese artistic life.

In the spring of 1911, he moved to his mother’s birthplace,Krumau, which is where almost all his townscapes were painted.

The residents of this small town were incensed when he employed young girls as nude models and, moreover, lived in sin with one of them. It was evidently this pressure that caused Schiele to leave Krumau in the autumn of 1911 and to settle in Neulengbach near Vienna. It was there in 1912 that Schiele was accused of seducing a girl below the age of consent; the case was later transferred to the district court in St. Pölten. However, Schiele was only sentenced to three days' imprisonment for distributing “indecent” drawings. After settling in Vienna in 1912, Schiele met Edith Harms in 1914, whom he was later to marry.

In March 1918, there was an exhibition by Schiele and the „Neukunstgruppe“ (New Art Group) in the Vienna Secession; this was to prove his first great success.

In the summer of 1950, Leopold discovered Egon Shiele, an artist whose drawings, watercolors, and paintings would hold an never-ending fascination. He realized that Shiele’s works were on par with the art of the Old Masters and that, moreover, his subjects were relevant to the here and now.

After his death at 28, Egon Shiele was acknowledged by only a small circle of connoisseurs and during the Nazi period his work was completely disregarded. After the second World War, the general opinion of art historians was that he was merely “local talent”.  The Leopold collection is the largest collection of Shiele's work in the world.

I bought a combo ticket that included entrance to the Kunsthalle which I would visit the next day.

My favorite artists featured at the Leopold are Egon Shiele, Gustav Klimt, landscapes of Rudolph van Alt.

Unique perspective of Vienice by Kurt Moldovan. Oskar Laske unique used of color as texture….amazing.

I have been a long time fan of Klimt, so I was so happy to see "Death and Life", in person. The use of texture and pattern to define space is genius. Also, I had seen several of Shiele's works in other museums around Europe but, seeing this vast collection unveiled his soul to me. I am as entralled as Leopold and will seek to know more about him and his work.

I stopped for a late lunch, after the Leopold. I had a hot grilled vegetable/creamy cheese sandwich, fizzy pear flavored water, and a piece of chocolate truffle cake…..mmmm good.

After re-fueling, I strolled, in the rain, from Mchaelerplatz, down Grabben, past Peterskirche, to Stephansdom.

I was able to see many of my favorite Vienna sights on this route.

The return to Piladelphiabruke was easy from here, just a couple of metro changes. The B7 bus was waiting at I exited and 5 minutes later, I was back at the hotel….easy, easy, easy.

Rob and I stayed in and had dinner at the hotel as it was quite late when he finished meetings for the day.

I really enjoyed my exploration of the Leopold, today. I was able to delve into the tortured genius that is Egon Siele and discovered several new (to me) artists that made me think and made me smile.

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photo by: hellenica