Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Alte Nationalgalerie and Neues Museum, Berlin

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 5, 2012

After a cafe lunch we’d best forget, we plodded on to the Alte Nationalgalerie which is a collection of Neoclassical, Romantic, and Impressionist artworks.  I’m not sure whether it was we were becoming a bit footsore or if perhaps it was indigestion, but the artworks here did not take my fancy the way they did in the other museums and I took hardly any pictures.

The bust of Goethe will interest my bookish friends, (and I’m pleased to say that I have finally read something by this author: you can read my review of The Sorrows of Young Werther over on my ANZ LitLovers blog). There were some lovely sculptures of the sort that people had in their formal gardens, but they seemed similar to ones I’ve seen elsewhere so I didn’t photograph them.  And the Impressionists were quite disappointing.  There weren’t very many of them, and the ones they had weren’t especially fine.  I thought that some of them might be in need of restoration because the colours seemed a bit dull, or maybe they’ve overdone it with the special lighting to protect the artworks, at the expense of being able to see them properly?

But the painting that intrigued me was this one: for some reason, some of the figures have been blanked out.  Who were they, and why was this done?  Did some nut-case do it, or was it some sort of vandalistic political correctness?  A couple of French women in the gallery were very indignant about it, so I wondered if the figures were French heroes?  Anyway, I photographed the information caption in the hope that someone who reads this will recognise the painting and be able to enlighten me.  It seems such a strange thing to do, to display a painting that has been mutilated like this! (Update, after a Google search: it’s not a defaced painting at all, it’s just not finished! See here and scroll down to the paragraph about Frederick the Great’s Address to His Generals Before the Battle of Leuthen (1859-61). )

Our last stop was the  Neues Museum, which specialises in Egyptian antiquities.  Once again Tim was in seventh heaven, especially when we finally got to see Nefertiti in all her glory.  For some bizarre reason, although you’re allowed to photograph everything else (as long as you don’t use flash), photos of Nefertiti are forbidden – which is daft, because there’s a gazillion images of her on the web anyway.  She’s displayed in a gallery all by herself, and it’s quite uncanny the way she seems to look out at people like us who are gawking at her.

But what I liked best was the early examples of writing – it never ceases to amaze me that these were somehow translated so that we can understand what these early scribes were recording. The funerary objects were very interesting too, and some of the sculptures of children were very moving – their expressions are very sad, showing that human emotion, especially grief, hasn’t changed at all over the millenia.

We finished up our time in Berlin at the tapas bar of the Melia Hotel.  This is an excellent hotel, and if you are keen to see the museums it is ideal because it’s within easy walking distance and it’s very central to everything else as well.  The service was great, the people friendly and the dinner we had in the restaurant was the meal of the trip.

That may change now that we’re in Paris of course!  Tim has booked us into a very nice restaurant for tomorrow night!

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3 Responses to “Alte Nationalgalerie and Neues Museum, Berlin”

  1. Lisa, please be sure and let us know if anything is discovered about the painting at the Alte Nationalgalerie. We’ll all be curious.

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