Friday, May 27, 2011

Museums and Mountains: From Milan to Switzerland

I've gone from sweating as soon as I step outside to having to wear four layers! But, for Steve and I, it is a welcome change.

I am now at the Hotel Beausite in Beatenburg, Switzerland, just 10-20 minutes up the mountain from Interlaken. But before I share about Switzerland so far, I should mention a few things from my last couple of days in Milan.

I decided to make Tuesday a museum day, since my back has been "out" for the last couple of days and it's difficult to carry my supplies around. While my Milan guidebook tends to paint a positive picture of the city, it has failed to mention how dirty the streets are or how every inch of wall and bridge has been defiled by graffiti. It's very sad, and unfortunately, has left me somewhat uninspired. Still, I've found a few quiet nooks to paint in here and there. But, as I said, Tuesday was museum day. I had the privilege of going to the Palazzo Reale, a museum that hosts various temporary exhibitions and is located right next to the Duomo. They were currently hosting an Impressionist exhibit of the Sterling and Francine Clark collection from Massachusetts. I couldn't believe how many famous pieces were in this collection, including Renoir's Box at the Theater (1880) -- among quite a few other Renoirs -- Giovanni Boldini's Crossing the Street (1873-75), Monet's The Cliffs at √Čtretat (1885), and Bouguereau's Seated Nude (1884). You can view the works that I saw here. I spent a good two and half hours staring at the art and hoping to somehow take it all in.

After my museum visit and a little bit of shopping (I mean, let's be honest... how can one NOT shop in Milan??), I had a late lunch at the Duomo Cafe, located directly across from the front facade of the Duomo. The view was spectacular, and there was a cool breeze on our faces as those of us sitting outside lingered even after our lunches and espressos were gone. I enjoyed people-watching, and watching the shadows move down the side of the beautiful cathedral as the afternoon went by.

That evening, Steve and I had a romantic dinner at a restaurant near the Brera. There were roses on the tables, and rose petals strewn across the cobblestones at our feet.

Wednesday was our last day in Milan. My excursions began with a visit to the Ambrosiana Library and Museum, home of the Codex Atlanticus, the original drawings and notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci. Not only was the library where they are housed a breathtaking site, but the rest of the museum had some real gems. Most notable was the "cartoon," or preparatory drawing, of "The School of Athens" by Raphael. The cartoon is one of the only surviving preparatory sketches from the Renaissance, and is massive in scale, just like the fresco, which is in the Vatican. I did a sketch of the drawing, and took note of the solid composition, the fluidity of form, and the motion of each figure. Raphael made several of the star characters look like his peers, including Plato (in the form of Leonardo Da Vinci) and Heroclitus (in the form of Michelangelo).

On Wednesday afternoon, I visited yet another museum, the Brera. There they had a wonderful exhibition featuring Milan's favorite 19th-century painter, Francesco Hayez. His most famous painting, "The Kiss" (1859), was a perfect representation of the Romanticism of the time and even more so, the Italian unification ("Risorgimento") that was underway.

The Kiss, by Francesco Hayez (1859), oil on canvas, 43" x 35"

Later that evening, I went with Steve and one of his coworkers to the Naviglio Grande. The two guys sat in a restaurant and enjoyed Happy Hour drinks, while I set up to paint nearby. I was worried about becoming a spectacle, but as people passed by, they were curious and kind, but kept their distance. A couple stopped and asked questions. The experience loosened me up and I actually really enjoyed it. The light changed very quickly, so I may have to finish my oil sketch from photos. Here are some shots from the evening's painting session:

So that was a good way to end our time in Milan. I hope to post many more pictures from this trip to Facebook when I return...

Yesterday's travels were strenuous; I had the painstaking task of getting myself and all of my luggage from Milan to Switzerland, without the help of Steve (who still had two more days of work!). I honestly wasn't trying to look like I was struggling with my luggage, but I really was! Thankfully, there were lots of kind people along the way who helped me out. :-) When I finally arrived in Switzerland, the views from my hotel more than made up for the trouble. Our hosts, Rita and Kasper, welcomed me graciously to the Hotel Beausite. I was able to enjoy a long walk around Beatenburg, the little hill town above Interlaken where Steve and I will be staying for the next few days. It was beautiful; however, rain came in, so I rushed back, and enjoyed an amazing Swiss dinner at the hotel.

Today is Friday, and I haven't gone out all day, unless breakfast downstairs counts. It has been very cold and rainy, with a fog so thick I can't see beyond the patio outside my hotel room. Thankfully, Steve has arrived her safe, and I consider today to have been a good day. I got a lot of rest, painted an 8"x8" self-portrait, which I entitled, "Self-Portrait on a Rainy Day," and caught up on some much-needed e-mails and general news, thanks to the free Wi-Fi here at the hotel.

I hope to post many more pictures soon, especially of my plein-air paintings and the views here in Switzerland. Until then, guten nacht, dear friends.


1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed looking at the many wall paintings that you have done. Not being very handy with a paintbrush, even though
    I know what I like in the way of art, I took the easier option to order this canvas print from the site .

    It’s an unusual work called Forest music 1, by Remedios Varo Uranga, a Spanish-Mexican woman artist.


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