During the Cold War and partition of Germany and Berlin, Museum Island was in the eastern sector of the city – in the DDR. West Berlin created their own cultural quarter close to Potsdamer Plaza – the Kulturforum with Mies van der Rohe’s Neu Nationalgalerie, and the Philharmonie and Chamber Music Hal , the Berlin Sate Library and the Gemäldegalerie, which houses an impressive collections of “old masters”.
The Gemäldegaleriewas was designed by Munich architects Heinz Hilmer and Christoph Sattler. There are 72 rooms which flow around a large central hall, described by the museum as a "meditation hall". The hall sometimes displays sculpture, but is mostly empty, allowing easy crossing between rooms.
The collection is organised so that the rooms on the northern side of the gallery displays works by artists from Northern Europe and the the rooms on the south side mainly devoted to Southern Europe (Italy and France, principally). They also have paintings by English artists, including Gainsborough.
It’s a massive collection, and although we spent more than a couple of hours in the gallery we hardly scratched the surface. However, I’m not overfond of Italian art from the Renaissance and earlier with religious and mythical themes. I can admire the skill of the artists but it doesn’t move me. So we concentrated on works from Northern Europe, particularly the painting from the Low Countries from the 15th to 17th centuries.
There were paintings by Jan van Eyck,
and Dutch “genre” paintings and winter landscapes
The stars of the show, though were two paintings by Vermeer
of which this was my favourite.