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The Habsburgs Knew How to Set a Table

The Habsburgs Knew How to Set a Table

Last Thursday was some Austria holiday. Don’t ask me what the holiday was. At any rate, I had the day off from German class, so I went with a friend to explore Vienna. We ended up at the Sisi Apartments, which is a lovely museum that shows the fine trappings of living at the seat of the Holy Roman Empire for 400 or so years.

The Imperial Palace

The Sisi Apartments are full of brass and porcelain and silver and other wonderful things. Makes me want to set a table. Not just put out plates and utensils, but, you know, actually have three or four plates, use a dessert fork, etc.  I have been dying to start collecting a set of mismatched vintage China. All the different patterns make my heart go pitter-patter. Something like this:

Yum. (I didn’t take this picture, but cannot figure out the original source).

Or like this:

Double yum. Isn’t it enticing? (Another picture that I didn’t take but cannot find the original source.)

And the Sisi Museum is full of the most AMAZING porcelain collections. The flea markets are also full of incredible vintage porcelain sets. I would start collecting now, but it would break when I take it back to the States, and I am moving probably 2 times in the upcoming year. So it’s not logical and stuff. Le sigh. Or I guess in German it would be: Die Sigh. Or Das Sigh. I am not good with the gendered pronouns.

In the royal family, it was important that all young men have a hobby. One of the Habsburgs (don’t ask me which one) was lacking in a hobby for a time, until he became interested in gardening and horticulture. Of course, he had lush, well-stocked gardens. And to go along with his interest, he had multiple sets of gorgeous porcelain dishes, each with a different hand painted bloom delicately gracing the smooth surface. Just incredible.

Unfortunately, the China was all behind glass so it was difficult to photograph these lovelies.

A center piece. Yeah. I know. FABULOUS!

Vintage silver. Another thing I want to start collecting.

Another center piece thingy.

I died. Hand painted birds and a lobster?!!?!

The set above was used for royal hunting parties. I think it was my favorite set. Seriously, lobster serving platter? What does one have to do to become a Habsburg to get access to this china? Oh, wait… I think there was a 30 Rock about that:

So maybe marrying the last Habsburg heir is out of the question, but a girl can dream… I mean, a girl can dream about china. Not the last Habsburg heir. (If you haven’t seen this episode, you definitely need to. It’s amazing.)

And one final picture of incredible porcelain for the road:

Little butterflies. On the plates and in my tummy when I think about setting a table with this divine stuff.

I am off to enjoy a lovely day sunning myself along the lush banks of the Danube.

Mit Liebe,


Klimt – Up Close and Personal

Klimt – Up Close and Personal

Gustav Klimt was kinda awesome. And the Klimt exhibit currently at the Leopold Museum, Klimt – Up Close and Personal, in Vienna is also kinda awesome.

The courtyard at Museumsquartier, where the Leopold is located. The bright colorful things are benches/chairs/tables for people to sit and enjoy the scene.

The Leopold

Stormy weather, but still an undeniably beautiful public space.

Not only does the Leopold have some of Klimt’s most incredible paintings, but the curators managed to track down hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of post cards that Klimt scribbled, sometimes as many as ten per day, to his dear friend, Emilie. Most of his postcards are about the weather, or what he ate for a dinner, or just a few thoughts that popped into his head. They are essentially the pre- and during-WWII equivalent of text messages, and were a wonderful glimpse into thoughts running through Klimt’s head.

Letter that Klimt wrote to his life-long friend, Emilie. I love his fascinating sketches and wonderfully eccentric handwriting. I makes me want to resume the lost of art of postcard-text messaging.

Death and Life

Lake Attersee (My Favorite – it’s Even More Brilliant in Person)

Der Goldene Ritter

The Big Poplar II

Klimt was a man who painted without an underlying motive, without pushing some major theory. He often said he was more interested in painting beautiful things than conveying some bigger thematic meaning. He also had many cats, which wandered freely through his studio. Rumor has it that he told his students that cat paw prints and occasional urine on his sketches were not a problem – they were really improvements. It was unclear if he was joking or not, and despite hygiene problems, I love this lighthearted approach to painting beautiful things.

Gustav Klimt and a Cat, that may or may not have improved upon his sketches. He is also wearing one of those long Chinese-style robes, and nothing else…

Though he mocked his art, Klimt was a successful painter during his lifetime, and received large sums for his paintings.

During the summer, Klimt only wore long Chinese-style dressing gowns, with nothing underneath. Secret-revealing time: That is BY FAR the best way to paint. In the buff, or semi-buff. If I had a long Chinese-style dressing gown, I would wear it to paint too.

Klimt was one of the founders of the Secession movement, a group of influential painters trying to break out of more conventional art molds. This (below) is a lovely poster for the group, that I believe was drawn by Klimt, but right now I cannot really remember.

I have so much more to tell, because I was incredibly moved by this exhibit. There is also more awesome stuff that was on exhibit at the Leopold Museum, but I think I will share that with you later.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. I want to finish by saying that I was never moved by Klimt before – the most famous works that everyone knew didn’t really speak to me – but this exhibit left me screaming to get out my paints, dying to put his techniques on canvas. If you haven’t been to see it yet, and have a chance, I highly recommend it. And I recommend wearing long gowns commando-style.

Lieben and painting,