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Berlin’s Bode Museum – sculptures and paintings from 11th to 18th centuries

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

It seems the Bode Museum is one of the less frequented stops for tourists in Berlin – perhaps because it is hidden down the back part of Museum Island, perhaps because most tourists have had enough of museums by the time they have seen the Pergamon, Neues Museum and Alte Nationalgalerie, or perhaps they have just had enough of religious and mythological artworks which dominated their experiences in Florence.

And yet, I was pleasantly surprised by the museum and it’s grand entrance hall boded well for a nice quiet experience (pardon the pun):

Bode

and yes, I think that was Frederick the Great on his horse again!

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 pro lens such as the above and below image, and the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens.

The rear staircase with various statues including a central figure of Frederick The Great:

Bode

Frederick the Great:

Bode

Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach (1472-1553) 1533, hmm check out the expression on the lion!:

Bode

Mars, Venus and Cupid by Peter Paul Rubens c1636:

Bode

The Prophet Isaiah by Jacob Cornelisz Cobaert 16th C, alabaster:

Bode

The Three Graces in alabaster by Leonhard Kern 1650. In Greek mythology, the Three Graces or Three Charites were usually regarded as being the minor goddesses Aglaea (“Splendor”), Euphrosyne (“Mirth”), and Thalia (“Good Cheer”) although there were other Graces too – we could all do with more mirth and good cheer!

Bode

Adam and Eve by Georg Pfrundt 1650:

Bode

Two Female Figures by Leonhard Kern 1650:

Bode

Boy as Fountain Figure by Andrea della Robbia of Florence 1490:

Bode

You see how early humans learned to light portraits – this one shows a lovely loop lighting (note the loop like shadow beneath the nose) in shortlit style (the face is lit from the rear side so the shadow side is closest to the viewer making the face look narrower) – we still use this flattering studio lighting today in portrait photography! Portrait of a Young Man by Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) of Florence.

Bode

German tribute to the Italian Renaissance which I believe was originally housed in Berlin’s Basilica built in 1904 but destroyed in WWII:

Bode

A Christian altar piece, I felt at times I was in a Get Smart scene with all these doors about to close on me as I approached – but they didn’t.

Bode

St Mary Magdalene by Henrick van Holt c1530:

Bode

St Mary Magdalene by Henrick van Holt c1530:

Bode

Reclining boy in alabaster by Niederlande 17thC:

Bode

From here on it gets a bit more violent with abductions, betrayals, etc:

Delilah cutting Samson’s hair
without consent while he slept and destroying his strength – by Artus Quellinus 1640:

Bode

Rape of Proserpine by Pluto – Adrian de Vries 1621 in bronze. It seems Venus wanted to bring love to Pluto and sent her son Amor (Cupid) to fire one of his arrows at him. Pluto, the god of the underworld, then came out of Mt Etna’s volcano with four black horses and abducted the goddess Proserpina who was having a good time in Sicily staying with some nymph friends. Pluto’s intention was to take her to the Underworld and make her his wife. Her mother, Ceres, the goddess of agriculture got very upset with this and tramped the world looking for her and in her anger stopped the growth of fruits and created the deserts, starting in Sicily. Pluto’s brother, Jupiter, became worried so sent his son Mercury to order Pluto to free Prosperpina, he obeyed but made her eat six pomegranate seeds which forced her to spend 4-6 months of the year living with him – hence when she comes out into the living world in Spring, the flowers bloom, and when she goes back to the Underworld each year, Winter ensues. Seems a fair explanation of the seasons and why there are deserts!

You might be wondering what rape has to do with it – well in ancient times the word rape actually referred to abduction not the sexual violence per se, but I am guessing most suffered sexual violation too.

Bode

The Rape of the Sabine Woman – Adrian de Vries (1556-1626) in bronze.

I guess I better tell you their story as well!

When Rome was founded by Romulus, he had a problem, lots of male followers but few women. You can’t start an empire like that! Thus the first Romans tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the surrounding tribes (the Sabines) for their women to be wives. The Romans decided to have a festival and invite people from neighbouring towns including the Sabines. Romulus gave the signal and the Sabine women were abducted and their menfolk fought off and the women were made to marry the Roman men albeit with betrayal of promises made to them.

Bode

Screaming woman by Sudliche Niederlande 16thC – not sure why she is screaming although the loss of her arm may have something to do with it!

Bode

Salome receiving the head of John The Baptist in the Dungeon after she had requested his beheading. Georg Schweigger Werkstatt 1648:

Bode

An 11th century Oliphant (Ivory horn for signalling the end to this post):

Bode

Berlin’s Pergamon Museum and the amazing Babylonian Ishtar Gate from 575 BC!

Monday, July 17th, 2017

The Pergamon Museum in Berlin is next to the Neues Museum (which houses Nefertiti’s portrait) and the Alte Nationalgalerie – all are a must see while you are in Berlin – the Pergamon tends to have the biggest queues so perhaps get in there early.

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 pro lens and the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens.

The city of Babylon and its impregnable blue walls and gates must have looked amazing and to think it was 2500 years ago – the gate was covered in lapis lazuli, a deep-blue semi-precious stone that was revered in antiquity due to its vibrancy – an amazing beacon in all of the Middle East – here is the Persian Ishtar Gate constructed in about 575 BCE by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II dedicated to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, but only the smaller 15m high gate is re-constructed here in the museum (the larger gate is in storage) – they were originally obtained by the German excavation of Babylon in 1899-1917:

Pergamon

Detail of the colored glazed bricks which here are composites of the original brick fragments, these extensive Walls of Babylon were considered one of the original Seven Wonders of the World (until replaced by the 3rdC BC Lighthouse of Alexandria). The original wall was cemented together using asphalt from the Dead Sea then known as Lake Asphaltum for the amount of asphalt that ended up on its shores:

Pergamon

Marble Roman market gate c100AD which were uncovered in the German excavations of Miletus in 1903-1905, 60% of which is original an originally re-constructed in 1929 but had to be substantially repaired in 1952-52 after bombings in WWII severely damaged it:

Pergamon

Pergamon

Basalt reliefs c 8th century BC: Ashur, the eagle headed winged deity – the head Assyrian god which dates from around 5000 yrs ago in the mid 3rd millenium BC:

Pergamon

Assyrian Palace c880 BC – Ashur:

Pergamon

The recurring motif of Assyrian sculpture – the Winged Genie c 870BC, which were closely associated with the god Enki. The idea of the Winged Genie formed the basis for similar creatures of archaic Greek mythology such as the Chimera, Griffin or Pegasus during the orientalisation phase of the Early Iron Age in 9th C BC in Crete, and made it into the Seraphim of the book of Isaiah in the Bible which had 6 wings, and in Revelation 4:7, the winged man becomes the symbol of Matthew the Evangelist.

Pergamon

Gebetsnische (Islamic Prayer niche) from Safar, Iran c623 AD if I translated the text correctly:

Pergamon

It was worth the rather long wait in the queue to get in!

Berlin’s Deutches Historisches – History of Germany Museum – some very cool works there

Monday, July 17th, 2017

I personally found the Deutches Historisches Museum quite fascinating and it is well designed in timeline order so that it is relatively easy to get a reasonable grasp of Germany’s history, albeit from a German point of view.

Here are just a few of the displays I found particularly interesting.

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens, mostly at around 1/8th sec handheld with full frame equivalent focal lengths around 200mm!

17th century plague mask for doctors to hopefully protect them from catching the dreaded disease by placing herbs or sponges soaked with vinegar in the beak – I am guessing it didn’t stop the infection but it might have made the smell of rotting corpses easier to bear:

Deutches Historisches

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his family by Louis Carmontelle, 1770:

Deutches Historisches

Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759) by Balthasar Denner, 1733:

Deutches Historisches

Karl Gottlieb Luck’s porcelain work Zwietracht in der Ehe (Discord in Marriage) 1775 – beware the German woman scorned – domestic violence has a long history indeed!

Deutches Historisches

The Battle of Trafalgar 1805 by William Miller in 1839:

Deutches Historisches

The morning after the Battle of Waterloo
by John Heaviside Clark in 1816 who had created his sketches on site at the battle field which formed the basis for this haunting painting – but it seems we never learn from wars:

Deutches Historisches

Ludwig Knaus’ Der Unzufriedene (The Malcontents or The Social Democrat), 1877 – shows a brooding visitor in an inn. On the wall is a handbill from the 1877 parliamentary elections. The newspapers are social democratic ones.

Deutches Historisches

AEG’s electric light advertisement 1888:

Deutches Historisches

Josef Rolletschek’s Die Vertriebenen (The Displaced) 1889:

Deutches Historisches

Germania, an image by Friedrich August von Kaulbach in 1914 which embodies Germany’s readiness to fight:

Deutches Historisches

East Side Gallery – street art on the remnants of the Berlin Wall

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera.

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

And a bit of a surreal post-processing for this one:

East Side Gallery

Some art works from Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

When in Berlin, purchase a 3 day Museum Pass (but don’t forget most museums are closed on Mondays), and allow yourself time for maximum of 3 museums each day – assuming you like art or history!

Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie is on the Museum Island and mainly holds 19th century art works, so let’s see a few of my favorites from the gallery.

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens

Antonia Canova’s Hebe 1796; In ancient Greek religion, Hebe is the goddess of youth and daughter of Zeus and Hera, and was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she was married to Heracles.

Alte Nationalgalerie

Arthur Kampf’s Der Artist 1907:

Alte Nationalgalerie

Osman Hamdi Bey’s Persian Carpet Dealer on the Street 1888

Alte Nationalgalerie

Sabine Lepsius’ Self portrait 1885

Alte Nationalgalerie

Christian Daniel Rauch’s Kranzwerfende Viktoria (Throwing the Wreath of Victory to the Winner) 1838-45 which has served as a model for football league trophies, but which I have rendered as sepia here (it is really lovely white marble):

Alte Nationalgalerie

Franz von Lenbach’s Theodor Mommsen 1897

Alte Nationalgalerie

Edouard Manet’s Im Wimtergarten (In the conservatory) 1879

Alte Nationalgalerie

Max Liebermann’s Kleinkinderschule in Amsterdam (Kindergarten or toddler’s school in Amsterdam) 1880

Alte Nationalgalerie

Heinrich Anton Dahling’s Kranzwinderinnen (Woman braiding wreaths) 1828

Alte Nationalgalerie

Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann’s Twin Portrait of the Brothers Grimm 1855

Alte Nationalgalerie

Moritz von Schwind’s The Painter Joseph Binder’s Adventure 1860

Alte Nationalgalerie

Georg Friedrich Eberhard Wachter’s Telemachs Ruckkehr (Telemachus’ Return) 1800-08; Telemachus is a figure in Greek mythology, the son of Odysseus and Penelope, and a central character in Homer’s Odyssey. The first four books of the Odyssey focus on Telemachus’s journeys in search of news about his father (Odysseus, who left for Troy when Telemachus was still an infant), who has yet to return home from the Trojan War.

Alte Nationalgalerie

Carl Friedrich Lessing’s Schutzen am Engpass (Riflemen Defending a Pass) 1851

Alte Nationalgalerie

Carl Friedrich Lessing’s Ritterburg (Knight’s castle) 1828

Alte Nationalgalerie

Potsdam and the Sanssouci Palace of Frederick the Great

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Whilst in Berlin, one should make sure they take the 45 minute or so train to nearby Potsdam and then a longish walk or taxi / bus to the Sanssouci Palace (Schloss Sanssouci) and its gardens.

Entry to the gardens themselves is via coin donation, but if you wish to book a time to see inside the palace, you need to go to the ticket centre where you may wish to purchase the option of being allowed to photograph the interior (but not publish the photos) – in retrospect, one probably does not need to photograph the interior unless you have a special interest.

Unfortunately, the Neues Palace was not open the day we went, and we were running short of time, only having an afternoon there.

It is a gorgeous way to spend a gentle summer’s day walking through the extensive gardens and then back to the Potsdam train station, stopping by the old church and then grabbing a lovely dinner at the cafe on the corner.

Unless specified otherwise, these were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens

Sansouci

This one was shot with the Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 pro lens

Sansouci

If only the statues and gargoyles could talk – what a history they have seen!

Sansouci

Sansouci

No, it’s not Napoleon but Frederick The Great:
Sansouci

Sansouci

A young lady posing on the steps of Orangerieschloss as a jogger passes by:

Sansouci

Sansouci

And if you like to people watch, the wonderful ambience and lovely angles of the sun make for some nice imagery if you are in the right frame of mind to look for them.

Sansouci

Sansouci

Sansouci

A beautiful image of a father taking his son for a walk:

Sansouci

When you walk back to the station there is an awesome old church (Friedenskirche) one can explore:

My friend Luigi posing for me.

Did I mention how lucky the northern Europeans are with their gentle angled summer sun in contrast to our high, harsh midday sun – when the sun is out in Berlin, beautiful sunlit images are easy!

Sansouci

A spy in the church with their iPhone:

Sansouci

My traveling band:

Sansouci

At the end of the day, dinner at the local Weiner Cafe on the corner of the Square with a view to the Potsdam Brandeburg Tor is a wonderful way to complete the afternoon. The main issue here is that the men’s urinals are obviously designed for tall Germans requiring tip toes for the height challenged!

Potsdam Brandenburg Tor:

Potsdam Brandenburg Tor

Weiner Cafe and Beer Garden:

Weiner Cafe

Berlin’s mixed architecture

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Berlin is a city of rapid change, dilapidated old communist styled austere buildings are rapidly being demolished to make way for modern developments – much to the chagrin and protests of locals, while 19th century buildings destroyed in WWII are still being re-built such as the palace near the Berlin Dome and the Kaiser Wilhelm Church.

Don’t forget to bring a rain coat, it does seem to rain often there and it is frequently very overcast – and I was there in late June – I did get absolutely drenched one day, but fortunately I was wearing quick dry shirt and shorts which had to be wrung out before I could allow myself entry back into the hotel in Potsdam Platz – I stayed at the Scandic Hotel which was very serviceable, clean and convenient with very friendly and efficient staff – only a hundred metres or so to train stations with their very regular train services (every 3-5 minutes or so) or the Berlin Mall shopping centre.

If you have not been to Berlin, here is a brief taste:

First we need to cross CheckPoint Charlie to get to the former East Berlin – this guy is just busking there posing as an American Soldier:

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

The rebuilding of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church in West Berlin:

Berlin

Communist styled Berlin Philharmonic Centre in Potsdam Platz:

Berlin

The TV Tower which the East Germans built to dominate the city, but ironically, in their effort to marginalise the churches and religion, if you are lucky like me, in certain sunlight, their tower reflects a cross for miles which is said to be the Pope’s revenge:

Berlin

St Thomas Church:

Berlin

Berlin

A slice of the old Berlin Wall in Potsdam Platz taken with the Olympus mZD 8mm f/1.8 fisheye lens:

Berlin

The rebuilt Berlin Dome church:

Berlin

The wonderful old buildings in Berlin’s Museum Island – some lovely art galleries and the history of Germany museum, all well worth seeing – buy a Museum Pass and you get 3 days to access them for free – but don’t buy it on the weekend as they are nearly all closed on Mondays:

Berlin

Outside Alte Nationalgalerie with its late 19th century and 20th century art works:

Berlin

Outside Bode Museum with its older art works – mainly religious works from 17th century and earlier:

Berlin

The Amazon with Nefertiti which is housed in this Neues Museum, next door to the Pergamon Museum:

Berlin

East Berlin was known as the capital of Spies, and today there are thousands of them:

Berlin

Unlike Paris, you don’t really need to dress up in Berlin, the tourists and locals dress very casually, so these two caught my eye, and there is something about this cool guy that reminds me of a young Bruce Willis:

Berlin

Don’t forget to head down towards East Side Gallery area, as there are some great little spots on the way such as this dilapidated building:

Berlin

And a riverside bohemian bar which I am sure would be closed down due to safety concerns elsewhere, but it was a cool spot to have a beer:

Berlin

Last, but certainly, not least, one can’t forget the great Brandenburg Gate or Brandenburg Tor which has a fascinating history relating to Napoleon’s invasion of Berlin and his desire to take the horse statues back to Paris:

Berlin

Berlin

Postcards from Berlin: reflecting upon the holocaust

Friday, July 14th, 2017

My little trip to Berlin wouldn’t be complete without taking time out to reflect on how men can behave so inhumanely and yet we still have not learn’t the lessons of where fear takes us to the dark side of absolutes and persecution.

Here are a few of my take on the horrors of the holocaust in World War II – the memorial to the Murdered Jews in Berlin is a must see just to spend some time reflecting and to read the many stories.

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

And, don’t forget the Jewish Museum and walking on these metal anonymous faces:

Berlin

Despite the sadness, Berlin is a wonderful, friendly city to visit which reminds me of my home town of Melbourne – perhaps it is the grunge and graffiti.