Another groundbreaking exhibition from Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, this time featuring Caravaggio, Bernini and other early 17th century artists from Rome.
- First-of-its-kind (outside Italy) exhibition of early baroque works
- Over 70 masterpieces collated from all over the world
- Juxtaposes paintings with sculptures in emotional themes to present the revolutionary artistic context of the time and place
- Runs Oct 15, 2019 to Jan 19, 2020
- Needs an additional ticket and time slot booking to view
- One-time free entry with a Vienna Pass (see below)
- See also: Kunsthistorisches Museum tickets and visitor info
Caravaggio in Vienna
(Part of a portrait of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum)
Few artists through history manage to become household names. Caravaggio (1571-1610) is one of them. And Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) just happens to have the largest collection of works by him and his artistic successors available outside Italy. This includes three Caravaggio originals: David with the Head of Goliath, Madonna of the Rosary, and Crowning with Thorns.
So it’s a little surprising that this is the first major exhibition in Austria of paintings from Caravaggio’s time. But that’s not the only premiere for this exhibition.
(An example of Caravaggio’s work: 1597’s The Musicians
Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum)
This is actually the first occasion such a significant collection of early baroque art has ever been shown beyond the Italian border, thanks to the triple focus on the iconic Caravaggio, Bernini (considered by many as the father of baroque sculpture), and a supporting cast of renowned artists from the early-17th century.
The exhibition includes over 70 masterpieces and showcases the work of the two groundbreaking Italians within the wider context of the artistic revolution going on around them in Rome. At the time, you can think of the city as a magnet for artists from throughout Europe.
The masterpieces on display come from all over the world, thanks to loans from such prestigious institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, the Eremitage, London’s National Gallery, and the Getty Museum.
(Part of a portrait of Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum)
Expect to see:
- On top of the KHM’s own Caravaggio paintings (see earlier), his Boy Bitten by a Lizard, Narcissus, John the Baptist, Portrait of Fra Antonio Martelli, Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy, Saint Francis in Prayer, and Portrait of Maffeo Barberini
- Bernini’s Medusa and Saint Sebastian sculptures, a Bust of Cardinal Richilieu, models for his Elephant and Obelisk and Ecstasy of Saint Teresa sculptures, and more
Other works include:
- Guido Reni’s Massacre of the Innocents
- Artemisia Gentileschi’s Mary Magdalene (on public display for the first time)
- Paintings or sculptures by Carracci, Poussin, Preti, da Cortona, Mochi, Finelli, Algardi, Du Quesnoy and others of their creative ilk
The works appear in themed groups, such as Wonderment & Astonishment, Love or Suffering & Compassion. Stand out pieces on my visit were:
- Bernini’s Medusa, a sculpture that captures the subject in the act of transformation, caught between worlds and emotions
- The shadows and candlelight in Carlo Saraceni’s Judith with the Head of Holofernes, which was influenced by Caravaggio
- The series of three paintings, all showing David with the Head of Goliath, by Caravaggio, Tanzio da Varallo, and Valentin de Boulogne, allowing you to compare the artists’ interpretations. It seems even masters make mistakes: the sword in Caravaggio’s painting is too small to be Goliath’s
- Bernini’s St. Sebastian sculpture, which he did when he was just 19. The representation of skin and muscle is extraordinary
- Caravaggio’s Madonna of the Rosary. There’s so much going on in the picture, including the perfection of the dirty foot soles and the man (possibly the painting’s sponsor) looking back as if catching a bystander taking a photo on his phone
Dates & tickets
The Caravaggio and Bernini exhibition is a cooperation with Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and runs from Tuesday, October 15th, 2019 to Sunday, January 19th, 2020.
You need an additional ticket above and beyond a normal entrance ticket to view this special exhibition. The Caravaggio “upgrade” costs €5 and you book a specific time slot for viewing the exhibition (day and time) when you get the ticket, whether online or on-site.
As with the 2018 special exhibition (Bruegel), a Vienna Pass sightseeing pass allows one-time free entry to the exhibition, though you still need to book a time slot when at the museum. If worried about time slot availability, then you can always use the pass to get into the museum, but buy the extra time slot ticket separately in advance.
Premium tickets (€30) are available which include the museum entry and you only have to specify the day you want to see the Caravaggio exhibition.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum operated a similar timeslot system for the Bruegel exhibition. Premium tickets and many slots sold out (particularly from the end of December). This may happen with Caravaggio, too.
How to get to the Caravaggio exhibition
The museum sits opposite the Hofburg palace area that dominates the old centre of Vienna. If you’re following the traditional visitor trails through the city, you’ll pass it.
And as one of the monumental constructs along the Ring boulevard, various trams and subway trains deliver you practically to the doorstep:
Subway: travel on the U2 line to Volkstheater or Museumsquartier stations. Volkstheater is also on the U3 line that traverses the centre.
Tram: take the 1, 2, 71 or D trams around the Ring to the Burgring stop, which is literally outside one end of the museum.
Address: Burgring 7, 1010 Vienna | Website