Archive | December, 2015

A feast of furniture

31 Dec


Vienna has over 100 museums to choose from, from the very grand (the Kunsthistorisches Museum) to the tiny and bizarre (The Museum for Contraception and Abortion!).  When we arrived, I vowed we would go to some of the more obscure ones, but for the most part, we have ended up doing repeat visits to our favorites, and haven’t ventured out to some of the odder ones. But while going through the reams of paper we have accumulated already on our trip, I found among the brochures one for the Hofmobiliendepot Möbel Museum Wien–the Imperial Furniture Depot and Museum. Since it was located in our district, and as our time in Vienna is running out, we decided to go visit yesterday.

I was expecting some ill-lit rooms, perhaps with some old pieces that had somehow survived from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and as we walked there in the bitter cold wind, we came very close to turning around and coming back.  I’m so glad we didn’t: we were stunned at what we found. The Museum is enormous, and has been thoughtfully presented to give what amounts to a social history lesson through furniture. As the plaque above states, this site was the Kaiserlich und Königliches Mobilien Magazin–literally, the Royal Storage Unit for 300 years of the furniture and fixtures that occupied a myriad of the Habsburg Empire’s palaces, castles, hunting lodges, and summer villas. The vast machine that was the Imperial household required entire departments that did nothing but remove furniture from one palace and transport it to another; many of the hundreds of artisans who gilded, carved, and constructed these objects lived in the royal quarters. The Museum’s wall panels are quite enlightening about the lifestyles of this completely vanished world of protocol and hierarchies.

IMG_20151230_135341Some of the displays of the over 60,000 objects on the Museum’s four floors make it look like an auction house, but even these sections have explanatory labels.











There are entire rooms devoted to footstools and prayer pews–


and an entire wall of Royal commodes!IMG_20151230_150828












My favorite room was the Workshop, focussing on the elaborate and painstkaing work carried out by craftsmen and artisans to produce all this stuff. Included in these display cases of wood inlay and metalwork were descriptions of now-lost processes to create all that elaborate ornamentation, along with those beautiful floors and wood inlay.

As a sop to the tourists, a whole section has been devoted to Sisi,


One of Sisi’s dresses, showing off her famous 19-inch waist.

Empress Elisabeth, and the family of Franz Josef. They even have a

display of Prince Rudolph’s childhood lederhosen and the lugubrious cradle in which he was rocked.

Of greatest interest to those who really admire furniture design are the reconstructed rooms with original pieces of furniture, most of them from Vienna’s most influential styles, that of the Biedermeier period 1815-

1830. The examples here are splendid, and the descriptions of the manufacturing processes are detailed.

In a special exhibition space, the Museum also had a great exhibition, ”Lightopia”, emphasizing both historical and exciting new directions in illumination. I loved that lamp made of LED and dandelion fluff:

What a find!  We were so exhausted and stimulated by what we saw there that I think we may have missed one floor!

By all means, come see this hidden treasure if you are in Vienna:



More Viennese practicalities

29 Dec

As we start to get ready to leave this city that we love so much, we thought we should try and remember what practical tips we can share for those who may be visiting in the future.

Here we go:

  1. Following up on our earlier description of computer technicalities: if you are going to be staying for any length of time and need WiFi set up, head straight for A3, on Mariahilfestrasse or at many other locations, buy the WebCube under whatever plan is practical for you. AVOID all of the online cards, e.g., GeORG!!! We had the WebCube in the apartment until Nora needed it back, so we tried the card arrangements (since the A3 WebCube requires a plan, and it’s usually a contract for a longer period, but they do have shorter plans, too.). The cards were a nightmare, because they required constant reloading, and you had to go get another coupon each time you needed to reload–you couldn’t just set it up to be topped up when it was down to a certain amount. If you are only going to be here for a short period, and need a SIM card for your phone, then we would recommend HoT, which DOES allow a setup with a top-up/reload possibility when your account gets below a certain amount. Otherwise, I would check out what your home phone company can provide for you. WiFi is available at most hotels and restaurants and cafes.

2. Doctors:  if you need to go to a doctor, there are several open clinics where you just show up and wait (and usually the wait isn’t long). Most of these clinics will speak English. You will be seen as a private patient, and it will cost anywhere between 50 and 150 Euros, and if you have any kind of decent travel insurance, the visit will be reimbursed. I just had to visit a gynecologist–a friend took me to her doctor, who was extremely professional, modern, and spoke excellent English. In this case, the doctor was able to do an ultrasound exam right there in the office.  This exam cost 130 Euros, but will be reimbursed by my insurance. We have also been able to get prescriptions for the equivalents of our prescriptions from home, and for much, much lower prices. (Be sure to bring along your U.S. prescriptions when you visit the doctor’s, because many of the medications are available but under different names.) Also ask at the Apotheke–the pharmacy–for any smaller ailments. The pharmacists here are very well-trained, and will offer professional advice and recommendations for treatment. They are just as likely to recommend ”natural” or naturopathic remedies as stronger drugs, which I really appreciate. Lots of things that require a prescription in the U.S. can be bought over the counter here.

Bipa_neuHave I already explained the differences between Apotheke, Drogerie, and Parfumerie? An Apotheke is where you go for medications, a Drogerie is for cosmetics and hair color and those kind of things, although the big chain BIPA has household cleaning stuff and photo machines, just like a Walgreen’s.

3. Public bathrooms are everywhere, but will almost always have an attendant to whom you will have to pay 50 Eurocent.

4. Organic products are everywhere and are excellent quality. We simply cannot believe how fresh and how superior to U.S. vegetables and fruit the produce is here.

5. For my AA friends:  AA is alive and well here, with many English-speaking meetings. Attendance varies from very small to about 50. They are always so happy to have new speakers!  For more information, check out

6. Cooking in Vienna:  baking powder is very good and perhaps better than American–George’s biscuits have turned out better than they ever do at home. Baking soda, however, is much stronger–you will notice the flavor if you use it often. Flour is, of course, also different:  there are JA_199_Dseveral kinds. The best one to get is Weizen Mehl Universal–which is the same as our All-Purpose flour. If you’re going to be here for long and will be wanting to make American recipes, be sure to bring your cup measures and teaspoons/tablespoons. Measurements here are done by scales.

7. Vienna’s transit system cannot be beat–really, trains and subways (the U-Bahn) and busses take you everywhere and come frequently at almost all times of the day and night. For whatever amount of time you will be staying, there will be a discounted ticket for you. Go to the Wienerlinien offices in the underground station at Stephansplatz, and buy an 8-day card, or a Monatskarte (a monthly card), or whatever length of time you need. This will save you LOTS of money, and the convenience is so worthwhile. And a tip for long-term visitors: buying a Jahreskarte (a yearly card) will allow you to get a seniors discount, and you can get a reimbursement if you don’t stay for the full term.

In three months of being  here, we have never once been asked for our tickets, but controls do come through, we are told, and they give very stiff fines for riding black. wienerlinien-700x445

You can also buy tickets from the machines for all these different levels, but we never figured out how to do it!  And remember that as of now, the Viennese mass transit systems are NOT integrated into Google Maps! You have to search connections through the Wiener Linien website, which is not always as user-friendly as it should be.


Regional and international train service is the Oesterreichische Bundesbahn, always written as above.  These connections are also extremely regular, frequent, and punctual.  There is also a way to get a senior discount on these runs, but it requires an application and forms, etc. In any case, remember: ALWAYS BOOK TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME!!! They will cost far less in advance than if you wait until the day to buy them.

I will put this up now, as just a preliminary list. If any of you have specific questions, or things you would like to know about, just let us know!






The dilemma of Diehl, part II

25 Dec

Hanns Diehl, Self-portrait with Turban, ca. 1925.

When Diehl’s self-portrait in a turban–apparently depicting him at Carnival time–was exhibited at Vienna’s Galerie Hieke in 1993, a critic wrote that it revealed the artist’s ability to recognize his own character flaws, namely vanity and self-aggrandizement. (”Er schreckte auch vor Selbstpersiflage nicht zurück. Sein ‘Selbstbildnis mit Turban’…wirkt wie ein Bekenntnis zu den eigenen Schwächen, wie Eitelkeit und Selbstüberschätzung.” Rüdiger Engerth, ”Mit scharfen Buntstiften,” Kurier, 28 January 1993, p. 14.)  This analysis may overestimate Diehl’s own self-awareness, but it is an accurate characterization of some aspects of the artist’s personality. When I first saw the work, I was intrigued primarily by its artistic merits, as the painting represents, to my mind,  Diehl’s most assured coloristic style, with its bold colored outlines and thick impasto paint. But as I have continued digging deeper into his life and work, it appears that the work does capture something of his eccentric and contradictory character.


One of Diehl’s designs for stained glass.

When Diehl moved to Vienna in 1906, he was meant to take over the running of the Herb & Schwab glass factory owned by his uncle. He did make designs for the company’s glass windows, at the same time becoming active in the city’s art world.  He created ex-libris for clients, submitted prints to magazine publications, painted in every genre and drew whatever struck his fancy. He was still experimenting in a variety of styles, imitating the popular motifs of, among others, Jozef


Hanns Diehl, Landscape in Schnackendorf, ca. 1910.

Israëls (1824–1911), Arnold Böcklin  (1827-1901) and Max Klinger (1857–1920). He was intent on being an academic artist in the mode of his hero Wilhelm Trübner, but had not chosen to specialize in any medium or genre. He was still employed at Herb & Schwab when World War I began in 1914.


Still a German citizen, Diehl immediately volunteered and was assigned to the War Ministry in Munich as a Russian translator. As translator and then as a war artist,


Hanns Diehl, Stab d. F.B.R. überquert die Morawa bei Nisch, X. 1918.

he saw action on the fronts in France and in Serbia.  He was greatly traumatized by what he experienced on the front; he wrote “The unheard of terror of this war I saw and experienced in France and Serbia; an enduring impression of unlimited and completely inhumane barbarity”.

diehl_ptg_flancourt_1918_i-33 22

Scene on the battlefield, 1918

He nonetheless seemed, from all accounts and from the photos he sent home to his wife, to feel a sense of camaraderie with his fellow soldiers.




diehl_photo_diehl&comradesplaying_ ww1

Diehl (seated), with his army comrades in World War I.

In 1916, apparently on leave from service, he returned to Vienna to marry Anna Pangratz.

diehl_photo_diehl and wife_1915

Hanns and Anna Diehl, 1916.

The story of their first years offer telling insights into Hanns’ character. At about the time  of their marriage, Hanns made it clear that he had no desire to take over the glass business; he wanted to be a professional artist, and possessed little business acumen (he said he did not want to negotiate with the workers or the unions). Anna, who was a capable businesswoman, had given up a good position at the Handelskammer (the Chamber of Commerce) because she thought she was marrying the director of a company. When Diehl rejected this position, Anna went back to work as the supervisor of the correspondence department of the Anker-Brot bakery firm, a position she held for 25 years. Hanns was now free to pursue his career solely as an artist. Hanns and Anna had one daughter, Ingeborg, born in 1917 (Ingeborg was the mother of both Heidi and Nora).


AN ASIDE: Anna was not the only woman at the time who ended up supporting her artist husband; the wife of the futurist writer Paul Scheerbart comes to mind. Her granddaughters remembered their mother saying that their grandmother would proudly say ”I work like a man, and I get paid like a man.” Anna would have made a good subject for books like Ulrike Halbe-Bauer’s Die Frauen der Künstler, which deals with this particularly category of women in the 19th and 20th centuries.



Hanns Diehl outdoors with peasant models, ca. 1920.

The 1920s and early 1930s were Diehl’s busiest and most productive years, although he never had many patrons. He travelled throughout Austria and to the Croatian coast, making magnificent color sketches and watercolors everywhere he went.


”Zell am See, gegen die Tauern,” ca. 1927.


Istrian Coast, watercolor, ca. 1930.

His drawings are especially strong, with an excellent sense of perspectival depth and shading. This facility would never leave him, and his sketches–hundreds of them remain in the family’s collections–reveal a spontaneity and exacting eye for detail at the same time.

diehl_dwg_aus dem schlossgarten_1933

In the Schloss garden at Wetzdorf, 1933.

In 1921, as a response to what he saw as the onslaught of modernist artistic directions , he established with several other artists the


Diehl is in the front row left.

”Künstlerbund Segantini.” He served as its director for the remainder of its lifespan, until the onset of World War II. This artist’s organization was committed to a traditional idea of painting, emulating the Austrian-Swiss painter of symbolic Alpine landscapes, Giovanni Segantini (1858-1899). This romantic Germanic style appealed to Diehl’s emotional instincts, but his work never copied Segantini’s motifs. Critics of the time speak of his work as showing an individual streak within traditional painterly parameters—that he always went his “own way” —and by this time, Diehl was indeed formulating his own stylistic preferences.  One critic of the first Segantini-Bund exhibition described his works admiringly as depicting “architectonic fantasies”(“Ausstellung des Künstlerbundes ‘Segantini’,” ”Illustriertes Wiener Extrablatt”, vol. 50, nr. 124, 7. May 1921, p. 1). The other members of the Segantini-Bund varied in ability and styles, from the treacly winter romps of Gustav Prucha (1875-1952)  to the quite polished post-impressionist works of Maria Egner (1850-1940) and Lilly Hofmann-Stein (1884-1961).

diehl_exhib@death_studio 1

Diehl landscape at an exhibition of the Segantini-Bund, at the Burgtor Wachhaus, ca. 1930.

By the mid-1920s, Diehl’s work began to take several variant turns. On the one hand were his oils, which now reveal a firm linear outline, with a near-impasto use of thick color. This style would be incorporated into most of his late oil paintings.


Still life with flowers and bananas, 1923.

diehl_ptg_portofdaughter_ca1937_iii-15 70

Portrait of Ingeborg, ca. 1935.




The other direction that began to surface in the late 1920s exemplifies Diehl’s contradictory nature. Despite his anti-modernist assertions, he began to create, apparently for private amusement, a series of eccentric, caricature-like watercolors that reveal a knowledge of works by such modern figures as Emil Nolde and Alfred Kubin. These often satirical commentaries are unlike any of his other, more formal works, and are described by later critics as revealing both a scurrilous sentiment and a debt to German Expressionism. These sometimes anguished images are the pieces that have endured, and are of greatest interest to contemporary audiences, who see in them a psychological reflection of the time between the wars in Vienna. diehl_watercolor_noldelikeface_viii-23 290

Some of these works–most of them in watercolor–also seem to relate to some personal situation in Diehl’s life–perhaps illness or a reaction to contemporary politics–but they demonstrate another side of his creative mind. These were apparently meant for private amusement and not for public exhibition.

diehl_watercolor_doctors&heart_1934_vi-31 176

A heart under examination, 1934.

diehl_watercolor_angsttraum_1934_iii-37 90

Ein Angsttraum (A NIghtmare), 1934.





The Sword Dancer, ca. 1930.











Schloss Wetzdorf, ca. 1932.

The painting above of Schloss Wetzdorf alludes to another of Diehl’s many sides. Some time in the 1920s, he became acquainted with the eccentric owners of this country estate (site of Heldenberg, a military diehl_postcard_schlosswetzdorf_heldenbergmemorial where the famous Austrian general Joseph Radetzky von Radetz–he of Strauss’s Radetzky-March–was buried). Anton Fichtl, the


Diehl’s portrait of Anton Fichtl, 1921.

Schloss’s owner, and Diehl must have shared political attitudes and a penchant for partying. According to the granddaughters, Diehl’s frequent visits to Schloss Wetzdorf were a source of friction between Hanns and his wife, and may have in the end led to her decision to divorce him. By the 1940s, she had had enough. A series of life drawings from this time done at Wetzdorf may give some indication of the activities that Diehl and the rest of the company enjoyed at the Schloss.

viii-12 251

Nude drawing, ca. 1933.


Life study, ca. 1932.









Still, these years were also filled with lovely drawings for his daughter and wife, and, later, sweet images for his granddaughter Heidi. The two paintings of sleeping girls are sides of a room panel that Diehl painted in 1929, and the booklet a story about their family dog.

Ever short of patrons and often without enough money to buy materials, Diehl did take on students, and at times offered drawing classes. In one of his most cryptic and intriguing works, Affenballade (Ballad of the Apes), he created a grid of bars that are painted along the lines of the Hessian sacks he used as a canvas. Mention of this amazing work brings us full circle, as it was this painting, now hanging in the apartment where we are staying, that first aroused my interest in Hanns Diehl’s art. (See part I of this saga.)


Finally, we come to that point in any discussion of German/Austrian art of the 20th century that requires suspending knowledge of what was to come. Here I am just going to repeat what I have written in our Wikipedia entry for Hanns Diehl (

Hanns Diehl was, like so many of his contemporaries, a romantic nationalist—a German who had become a naturalized Austrian citizen in 1926, at a time when notions of national identity were particularly urgent, after the defeat in World War I and the fear of Soviet-style Communism engulfing the countries. Artists as diverse as Nolde and Lyonel Feininger initially praised Hitler and Mussolini’s efforts. Diehl became a member of the National Socialist Party even before the Anschluss in 1938—a decision that would come to haunt him after World War II. When the Nazis did take over Austria, Diehl naively saw the regime as offering job opportunities. He became one of the directors of the Gemeinschaft bildender Künstler, the Society of Visual Artists, and submitted designs for the Party’s official publications and events. He was to be bitterly disappointed that the regime was to exclude so many artists from its official exhibitions, writing a letter of complaint to the Party officials expressing his dismay at this lack of ” National Socialist collegiality.”  This complete lack of understanding of the Nazi Party’s political goals is indicative of so many cultural figures of the time. Diehl never expressed any anti-Semitic sentiment, and after the War, when he was briefly imprisoned, it was the testimony of a Jewish neighbor that assured his release.

The real reasons for his arrest in 1946 have been muddied, but appear to have more to do with a squabble over studio space that caused Diehl to be turned in to the authorities as a Nazi party member. Because of the chaos of the judicial system immediately after the war, he remained in remand “under investigation” for 8 months. He was never brought to trial, convicted of any offense, or even formally charged with any offense. The


”Schicksalwendungen” (Changes of fate), drawn when Diehl was arrested, 1945.

situation broke him nonetheless. Although divorced by Anna by this time, he still went to live in her house. On December 22, 1946, both she and Hanns died of asphyxiation from a faulty gas heater. It is still unclear if their deaths were an accident or suicide.

Perhaps because of his close ties to the Nazi Party, Diehl was forgotten, even as other members of the Segantini-Bund gained some recognition. In 1963, his family organized an exhibition of his work at the Österreichische Staatsdruckerei, at which time the art critic of the Wiener Zeitung wrote that he was a painter who had been unfairly forgotten.Another exhibition at the Galerie Hieke in 1993 praised his watercolors and personal paintings of the 1920s as his best work, labelling him as an artist “between tradition and eccentricity.”

diehl_dwg_empor zur freiheit_1945

Hanns Diehl, ”Empor zur Freiheit” (Arise to Freedom), 1945.






Baedeker’s, 1900, Natural History Museum

19 Dec

[George’s take on the wonders of the Naturhistorisches Museum. He was the keeper of Baedeker’s, so he really had fun comparing the rooms then and now]

As I mentioned earlier, we came to Austria with a 1900 edition of Baedeker’s and have had no end of fun checking to see what remains a century later.

The other posts, slightly out of order from Baedeker’s, are

Train Stations and Tramways

Hotels and Baths

Wines, Restaurants, and Confectioners

Theaters, Concerts, and Music in Churches

Natural History Museum

Once we start talking about institutions of real learning, of course Erika has beaten me to the punch with an elegant and readable blog entry: Naturhistorisches Museum

Following on in my plodding approach, here’s the room by room summary of continuities and changes.

Natural History Museum


Room I.  “Large rock crystals … At the middle window is a group of stalactites from the Adelsberg Grotto.”  Yep.  But the stalactites might have been moved 20 feet from a central window to one nearer the door.

Nathist minerals


Room II.  The diamonds have been moved to more secure lodgings in room IV.


Room III.  Maria Theresia’s crystaline bouquet and the opal have been moved similarly to room IV.

NatHist crystal


Room IV.  Building materials of Vienna, much enlarged are now in room I.  Itś hard to convey how cool a series of rectangular, polished stones can be.   These carefully identify where on which building in Vienna these types of stone are used and where they were mined.

Secure cases are along the far wall.

NatuHist Bldg


Room V.  Meteorites.  Yes, lots of them in interesting variety.

Room VI.  Portraits and a display of coal-forming plants are gone, replaced by a variety of educational displays.

Room VII.  The limestone erosion is now in Room VI.  Now the room houses early fossils.

Room VIII.  The fossil water lilies and pterodactyls are still here.

NatHist lilies


Room IX.  No skeleton of a goat by the door, but fossils galore.

Room X.  No skeletons of bears and lions, but dinosaurs and the like and a huge turtle.

Room XI.  Prehistoric relics.  Yep, including the famous Venus.

NatHist Venus


Room XII.  Prehistoric tombs and relics.  Now some graves and also some salt mines and the like.

Room XIII.  Iron Age implements and Celtic evidence.  Yep.

Erika found the stuffed birds in XIX – XVI too depressing to venture on to the second floor where  taxidermist’s art is applied to increasingly complex animals.  Why a mouse is more complex than an octopus, I can’t imagine.  Suffice it to say that the maps in Baedeker’s and from the Museum match pretty well, as one would expect.

As Simon Winder writes in Germania, the Naturhistorisches Museum is one of the miraculous survivors of the destruction of Europe in the 20th century, and remains ”one of the great repositories of pre-1914 learning.” And lots of fun!

Baedeker’s, 1900, Theaters, Concerts, and Music in Churches

19 Dec

As I mentioned earlier, we came to Austria with a 1900 edition of Baedeker’s.  Tickets to events in the theaters and concert halls are a bit pricey for us, but music in the churches is always inexpensive and sometimes is free.  You don’t feel much inclined to get into your fancy duds, though, to sit on a rock-hard bench in the freezing cold of a Gothic or Baroque church.  Honestly, two out of three did have some form of laughably rudimentary heating.

The other posts, slightly out of order from Baedeker’s, are

Train Stations and Tramways

Hotels and Baths

Wines, Restaurants, and Confectioners

Theaters, Concerts, and Music in Churches

Natural History Museum

Theaters and concerts.

Baedeker’s 1900 begins this section with “Imperial Theaters”, meaning, I suppose, that these were the theaters sponsored by the state.  In 1900 Austria still had an aristocracy:

Opera, Opernring, of course.

Opernhaus_Wien_Staatsoper-Van_der_Nüll-187x Staatsoper Wien, Innenansicht


Hof-burgtheater, now the Burgtheater, Burgring. This theater is the home of ”Burgtheaterdeutsch”, considered as one of the most eloquent, clear, and melodious forms of the German language. Essentially a theatrical German, it was implemented as a way to override the various dialects and pronunciations found throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Burgtheater burgtheater_1900[1]

Hofberg Theater, 1907

 Private Theaters

Volkstheater, Neustiftgasse 1 (corner of Burggasse & Landesgasse)


Volkstheater, 1900.

Volkstheater_Vienna_Rote salon Sept_2006_002

Red Bar


Concert Hall


Theater an der Wien, Linke Wienzeile 6


Here’s the plaque on its wall — I mean, really, Beethoven lived in a dressing room or something in 1803-4 when he premiered here Fidelio, the 3rd Symphony, and the Kreutzer Sonata (Violin Sonata no. 9.)


Carl Theater, Leopoldstadt.  Closed in 1929.




Theater an der Josefstadt, Josefstädter Str. 26



Kaiser-Jubiläums Theater,  now the Volksoper.


Volksoper 1920

Raimund Theater, Wallgasse 18-20

Raimund Theater 1905



 Jantsch Theater.

Begun as a popular theater, it was from the 1920s a well-loved cinema in the Prater. When it burned down in 1981, it was the last of the many movie houses that had been the entertainment hub of the Prater area.


Postcard of Jantsch-Theater, 1900.

Music in churches.

In 1900, Baedeker’s lists music in churches with this short statement: ” At 10 a.m. on Sun. in the Votive church…and the Alt-lerchenfeld Church…; at 11 a.m. in St. Stephen’s Church…, the Hofburg Kapelle…, the Augustine Church, and the Karls-Kirche…” (p. 7)

Today, it’s a little more complicated. The churches listed below host concerts, usually classical or liturgical.  The cost is modest compared to the proper concert halls.  These and many others also have choral works presented more or less for free, usually on a Sunday afternoon.

Votiv Kirche, Rooseveltplatz

Saint Stephan’s, Stephan’s Platz


Altlerchenfelder Kirche, Mentergasse 13, 1070 Wien. No music routinely scheduled at present.
Hofburg Kapelle, Hofburg-Schweizerhof.  Special events often.


Augustiner Kirche, Augustinerstraße 3




Karlskirche, Karlsplatz.  As well as scheduled concerts, there is free organ music Monday through Friday at 15:00, and Saturday and Sunday at 20:00



Baedeker’s 1900, Wines, Restaurants, and Confectioners

18 Dec

As I mentioned earlier, we came to Austria with a 1900 edition of Baedeker’s.  Again, with Baedeker’s 1900 as the source for all the quotations here. For some reason, the volume began a discussion of Austrian wines immediately following its introduction to Viennese restaurants.  I’ve reversed the order.

The other posts, some also slightly out of order from Baedeker’s, are

Train Stations and Tramways

Hotels and Baths

Wines, Restaurants, and Confectioners

Theaters, Concerts, and Music in Churches

Natural History Museum


“The best white Austrian wines…”  Today the best Austrian wines are the white Grüner Veltliner (pretty good at about 10-12 for a liter) and some fairly expensive red that I don’t know from Burgenland (Umathum and Moric are mentioned, really only slightly more expensive than the whites).  Baedeker’s lists the places where the wines come from, not the wines themselves, so the wines don’t have the names given.  That said, they list six white wines and one red from Austria and five whites and three reds from Hungary.  People with taste here would not disagree with the notion that Austrian white wines are six times better than its red wines.

Several of the locations mentioned grow Gruner Veltliner wines.










Vöslauer (now known for its bottled water)









Ruster (wine from Rust, Burgenland)


Hungarian wines.
The transition from German to Hungarian names is sometimes insurmountable.  I couldn’t find Ofener, a wine mentioned in Baedeker’s in 1900 as a red Hungarian wine, and Carlowitzer as a white wine of high quality. Perhaps wine connoisseurs out there can help identify these types?

Neszmelyer — yes as Neszmely wine region



Szegssarder, as Szekszárd, once there, you will certainly recognize this
as a field of  grape vines!



Schomlauer: the current name is Somlói, with many varieties of white wines.



Tokay — yes, as the dessert wine Tokaji



Erlauer, known for the wine Erlauer Stierblut (literally, “oxblood” which I always took to be an insult to wines, as in tasting like “fortified oxblood”.)

Erlauer Stierblut

 Restaurants and cafes.

Checking these is too much work for too little result.  If the restaurant was in a hotel, it may still exist. For the rest, the location will survive even when the proprietors and their recipes are long gone.


Baedeker’s 1900 lists cafes and restaurants, but the most likely enduring institutions are really the Konditorei, sometimes spelled in English, Conditori.  You can eat anywhere, but where can you get a good cup of coffee and a piece of cake?  Three or four of those mentioned in the 1900 edition still remain.  The beautiful Janele, across from the Opera on Operngasse, came and went in the mean time.  Their Nusstasche or Milchrahmstrudel could sustain a student.  Janele’s location, like many of the restaurants, still is a Konditorei, complete with its mirrors incised with Janele’s name.


Note the Janele name still in the glass, while the cafe is now in different hands.

Before we get started though, I have to mention Cafe Hawelka (Dorotheergasse 6) also.  A student and artist hang out, sitting on a bench by the bar, Frau Hawelka presided over it decades ago.  Her son serves now.  Erika remembers it as a bit shabbier.


George at Cafe Hawelka.

Currently, Yelp finds 34 Konditorei in Vienna which register 4 or more stars.

Those famous ones that were recommended in 1900:

Demel, Kohlmarkt 18,  now Kohlmarkt 14.  You won’t believe the fare–still the most beautiful room.



Gerstner, Kärntnerstrasse 12.



Pischinger, Kärntnerstrasse 42, no longer a Konditorei, but still a bakery making a namesake cake since 1881.  It looks a lot like a Mannerschnitten to me.



Gollwitz, Lugeck 1.  Nope.

Ehrlich, Rothenturmstrasse 22. Nope


Lehmann, Singerstrasse 3–the building and the name are still there, but it is now part of a franchise group. Lehmann was the confectioner to the Kaiser.



Gfrorner, Kilowrat Ring 1.  Nothing.

Ullman’s Söhne, Sechshauser Strasse 15.  Nothing. There is now an Ullman’s Konditorei in Leopoldstadt, 2. district, but I’m not sure it’s the same family.

Jordan U. Timaeus, Freisingergasse 6. Nothing
Cabos, Kärntnerstrasse 37. Cabos as a maker of biscuits (cookies) lasted until the 1980s.


V. Schmidt and sons, Stefans Platz 19.  Nothing

[We’ll fire the copy editor ifhe ever shows up again.]


Baedeker’s, 1900, Hotels and Baths

18 Dec

Hotels and Baths.

As I mentioned earlier, we came to Austria with a 1900 edition of Baedeker’s.  Here, with some help from Erika, we look at the hotels and, believe it to not, baths listed in that guide which are still here.

The other posts, slightly out of order from Baedeker’s, are

Train Stations and Tramways

Hotels and Baths

Wines, Restaurants, and Confectioners

Theaters, Concerts, and Music in Churches

Natural History Museum


These are the First Class hotels listed in Baedeker’s.  The rates were not published.  The cost of a cab to them from the train in 1900 was 1 florin, 10 kroner.

Hotel Imperial, Kärntner Ring 16.  Currently, a Starwood Hotel, rates: € 287 – ~€ 2,000, butler service and separate living room from ~ € 700.

Hotel Imperial 1908


Grand Hotel, Kärntner Ring 9.  After respectful renovation by All Nippron Airways, the Grand is now owned by JJW Hotels. Rates: ~€ 280 – ~€ 2000, suites start at € 475.

Wien_Grand_Hotel_1 grandhotel_wien Grand Hotel, ca. 1900.


Hotel Bristol, Kärntner Ring 5.  Across from the Opera House.  Also owned by Starwood, rates from ~€ 280 – ~€ 1450, suites from € 990.

hotelbristol_today hotelbristol_1916[1]
Hotel Bristol 1916

Also mentioned:

Hotel Metropol, Franz-Josef Quai 9.  Sadly, stolen and used as the headquarters of the Gestapo in Vienna, heavily bombed; demolished in 1945. The site of the hotel now contains a memorial to the victims of the Gestapo.

Hotel Metropol 1916


Memorial to Victims of the Gestapo, Morzinplatz, site of Hotel Metropol.


Hotel Sacher, Augustiner Strasse 4, now Philharmonikerstraße No. 4 (behind Opera House). Family owned, home of the Sacher-Torte, it has come up in the world since 1900, now a 5 star, rates: ~€ 600 – ~€ 7400, suites from ~€ 1000.

Hotel_Sacher_Wien hotelsacher_ca1890[1]

Hotel Sacher, 1907


Residenz Hotel, Teinfalt-Strasse 6.  No longer a hotel; the address is now the site of an Irish Pub, listed as one of the best places for nightlife in Vienna.



Molly Darcy’s Irish Pub, Teinfaltstrasse 6


Erzherzog Carl Hotel, Kärntnerstrasse 29-31.  The building has now been demolished, replaced by a particularly uninspiring Peek & Cloppenburg department store.


Hotel Erzherzog Karl, 1912.


Kärntnerstrasse 27-31 today.


Meissl and Schadn Hotel, Kärntnerstrasse 16.   Burnt down in 1945, but they did save the mosaic.



Hotel de France, Schottenring 3.   Owned by Gerstner, rates: ~€ 120 – ~€ 400, suites from ~€ 200.

HDF-001.Front-View.72 hoteldefrance_1905[1]
Hotel de France, 1905


Kaiserin Elizabeth, Weihburggasse 1.  Now a rather modest hotel, named for the much liked Sisi, daughter-in-law of the dragon Sophie, and friend of Hungary, rates € 127 – 180.

Haus-Weihburggasse_3-01x kaiserinelisabethhotel2
Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth, brochure from the 1920s

The British newspaper The Telegraph recently listed the following as the best hotels currently: Ritz Carlton (£470), Sacher (£354), Imperial (£321), Park Hyatt (£300).

We’ll leave off the suburban hotels, pensions and private apartments for now.


A major category in the old days of Baedeker’s, these were both baths where one went to get clean, and also Schwimmbaeder, swimming pools and outdoor bathing/swimming facilities along the Danube in this case.

Central Bad, Weihburgasse 20.  A bath was at this site in the 14th century! In the 19th century, this was considered the most elegant bath in the entire Western world. Perhaps needless to say, this Bad has an intriguing history in the story of gay Vienna (look it up).

800px-Pool_for_men_centralbadCentral Bad, ca. 1910 Buch "Badefreuden - Eine Reise zu den au§ergewšhnlichsten BŠdern in Mitteleuropa" von Iris Meder
Remarkable still!



Diana-Bad, ca. 1910.

Diana-Erlebnisbad, across the Donau Canal near StefanieStrasse.  Fourth incarnation, similar location, changed address, Lilienbrunngasse 7-9, 1020.



Römisches Bad. Kleinstadtgutgasse 9.  Closed 1953.



Sophien Bad, Marxergasse 13.  This wonderful ballroom, home to the originating Ball Season.  From Baedecker’s:  “During the Carnival public Masked Balls take place in the Sophien Saloons…More select Assemblies (‘Redouts’; adm. only by invitation cards) are held at the Rathhaus…and in the Kunstlerhaus.”   For its acoustics, it was the Decca recording studio in the 1990’s.  It burnt down in 2001.  Now the Sophiaiensale, but no evidence of a bath or recording studio in the luxurious new digs.

_491_5_42d2d22241f80c5140d4851b14dba734 vienna_sophiensaal_facade


Josefs Bad, Markergasse 13, now Sophienbruchenstrasse 12. Not found.

Beatrix Bad, Linke Bahngasse 5.  Re-opened as Beatrix Spa, but not a bath.

Floria Bad, Floriagasse 7.  No evidence.

Margarethen Bad, Wildemanngasse 5, closed in 2004 after 15 years as Rogeners at Strobachgasse 9.

Esterhazybad, Gumpendorf Strasse 69, above Kron Prinz Rudolf Brücke.  Closed 1982.

Russian Vapor Bad, Liniengasse 6,  probably a banya sauna.  No evidence of it.

Martin Bad, Schottenfeldgasse 94.  No evidence.

Städisches Bad, in the river on the far side at Gumpendorf Strasse 69.  No evidence.

Baedeker’s Austria, 1900, Train Stations and Tramways

18 Dec

[George has been working on this since we got to Vienna! He initially had the whole thing as one blog entry, but it was becoming quite unwieldy, so we broke it into parts. It is by no means comprehensive, but we hope it is relatively accurate.]

Has nothing in Vienna changed in the last century, really?

One of the few books we brought with us was, of course, a Baedeker’s Austria, 9th ed., 1900.  While I have not used it a great deal, I wondered how relevant its information was, so I checked its introductory categories for Vienna.  Spoiler alert — fine hotels and convenient trains, sure, they still are here and recognizable, but baths?  Why would baths persist?

The other posts, slightly out of order from Baedeker’s, are

Train Stations and Tramways

Hotels and Baths

Wines, Restaurants, and Confectioners

Theaters, Concerts, and Music in Churches

Natural History Museum


Train Stations

Baedeker’s:  “Arrival …  Vienna possesses 7 railway stations …”
There was no airport, but of the railway stations, they’re still here —

“Nordbahnhof … 11 Leopoldstadt … near Praterstern”.
Rebuilt in 2004 – 2008 at Nordbahnhofstrasse 5 and now called
Praterstern, a huge mall-like structure into which zillions of
trains seem to arrive and depart. If you’re going into town, your
direction on the U2 or U1 subway is toward Karlsplatz.  They
run frequently from just after 5:00 am to just after mid-night.


Nordbahnhof, 1900.


Praterstern, formerly Nordbahnhof, 2008


“Südbahnhof and Staatsbahnhof … both in X. Favoriten”.  Now called the Hauptbahnhof and in the Südtirolerplatz.  The Hauptbahnhof is now like a very glamorous airport terminal, with tons of shops. Again, if you’re going into town take the U1 toward Karlsplatz.


Suedbahnhof, ca. 1900



Hauptbahnhof, 2010.


“Westbahnhof … XV. Fünfhaus”.  Now very conveniently at
the top of Mariahilfestrasse, at Europaplatz 2, 1150 Wien. It, too, is now quite glamorous, and has shops that are open on Sunday, when other shops are closed. Into town, take the U3 toward Simmering or the U1 toward Leopoldau.


Westbahnhof, ca. 1900


Wien Westbahnhof Zentrum, 2008-2011


“Franz-Josef-Bahnhof … IX. Alsergrund, Althan-Platz”.  At
Alserbachstrasse and Althanstrasse.  One of the more neglected of the stations, it was renovated completely in the early 2000s, and is now a hub only for regional trains. Toward town, take the streetcar S40.


Franz-Josef-Bahnhof, ca. 1880.


Franz-Josef-Bahnhof, ca. 2012.

“Aspanger Bahnhof…III. Landstrasse Rennweg”. The only station that no longer exists, and for good reason: it was from here that the Jewish citizens of Vienna were put on trains to the concentration camps. Demolished in 1977, tucked behind the Belvedere, it is now the Platz der Opfer der Deportation–the Square for the Victims of Deportation.



Let me give it to you so: it is difficult to translate from Baedeker’s 1900 to current bus, tram, and underground lines, but at,  with a bit a patience, you can figure out how to get from anywhere to anywhere else in Vienna.

The dilemma of Diehl: a forgotten artist, part I

16 Dec


In Vienna, we have been lucky enough to be able to stay in the apartment of our friends Wolfgang and Nora. This apartment was Nora’s before she married Wolfgang, and they have kept it through all their years of diplomatic travelling. It is ideally located near the Museumsquartier, and in what is now considered the hippest part of Vienna. Except for the three flights of stairs and no lift, we love it.

The apartment is filled with art, acquired by both Nora and Wolfgang, with an admirable collection of African masks and sculptures, and very modern paintings by Franz Ringel and others. And on the wall of the main room hangs the painting shown above. When I first saw it, in context with all the African art around it, I assumed it was a very modern painting, probably from the 1970s or 80s, making some kind of commentary about the post-colonial world: a native woman and child on one side of a cage, and chimpanzees on the other. Who is encaged, the people or the animals?

It wasn’t until I looked more closely that I saw the signature: diehl_pocoptg_signature

Intrigued by that rather historically significant early date and the name, I asked Nora about it, and learned that the painting was one of many artworks done by her grandfather Hanns Diehl (who–apparently in an attempt at a more distinctive moniker–also went by the name Hanns Diehl-Wallendorf). When I then met Nora’s older half-sister Heidi and saw a number of interesting paintings by Diehl in her apartment  (along with Heidi’s extraordinary collection of cat-related art objects!), I became even more intrigued, and began doing some searching about this artist I had never heard of but who had enough talent to produce works on a par with many better-known figures in German art of his time.

The sisters also told me that they had all of their grandfather’s records, information, and hundreds of works out at the house in the Kamptal countryside where Nora grew up. They both confessed that they wanted to do something to bring his work to light and had made some efforts in the past, but were now at a loss about how to proceed. At this point I offered to help–to go through what documentation they had, and to look at what art of his remains. My hope was to get at least a Wikipedia page up (although in English when it should be in German), and perhaps an article that would bring him to the attention of those interested in this period and this type of art. And so I waded in! Diehl’s art intrigued me, and I believe it does warrant more recognition.

Little did I know how much stuff about their grandfather they still had: their mother, Hanns’ daughter Ingeborg, saved everything, including receipts of Diehl’s sales and sketchbooks as far back as his student days. A trip out to the country hannsdiehl_palette_closeuphouse revealed that, along with hundreds of paintings and a trunk full of documents, they even still had his palette! I took some photos of the paintings out in the country, and then brought in to Heidi’s apartment the rest of the papers. I have now gone through a sizable chunk of this material, and have decided that a blog entry is an appropriate first step. We have already begun a Wikipedia entry, but it is not yet complete enough to be submitted; by writing this blog entry first, we’ll have a reference to cite in the literature section that will be acceptable to the Wikipedia administration. There are still gaps in what we know about him; all three of us have been hampered by the fact that despite a number of letters in his records, Diehl wrote in such difficult ”Alte Schrift”–old-style German handwriting–that none of us can read them easily! At this stage, I am going to present here what information I have, along with comments about his art, and interject throughout questions that I still have about his life and his works. Some of these may never be answerable, or I will have to speculate on possible motives or sequences of events.


The Diehl home in Pirmasens, Germany.

Diehl’s story epitomizes the confusing, and ultimately sad, trajectory that the political events of 20th-century history imposed on anyone involved in the artistic life of the German-speaking world. He began life, on March 13, 1877, as Hans Rudolph Diehl, the second son of a well-to-do family in Pirmasens, Germany, in the region of Rheinland-Pfalz. His father August, a mechanical engineer and factory owner, was commissioned to work on the Russian railways in Moscow, and so Hans spent his early school years in Russia, attending the Petri-Pauli Realgymnasium. Later he wrote that these years were some of his happiest memories, as he spent hours walking in the woods surrounding Moscow. He drew from an early age, encouraged by his mother, who he described as having a natural talent for hannsdiehl_russianchurchesdrawing. Some of his later paintings relate to his Russian life, and during World War I, he was able to use his Russian language abilities to serve as a translator.

diehl_photo_diehl at easel_ca1910


Diehl’s diploma from the Weimar Akademie, June 1896.

In the 1890s, the Diehl family returned from Russia and settled in Weimar, where Hanns then attended the famed Weimar Akademie für bildende Künste, studying under the genre painter Carl Frithjof Smith (1859-1917) and Professor Max Thedy (1858-1924), and then as a master’s student with Theodor Hagen (1842-1919), considered one of the founders of German Impressionism. Diehl received his diploma from Weimar in June 1896. From this time on, he always referred to himself as ”Akademischer Maler”–a sign that he was determined to be a professional artist, an academic painter.  It was also about this time that he began calling himself Hanns Diehl-Wallendorf; a review of his first art show in 1899 refers to him by this new name.


Catalogue for Diehl’s exhibition at the Bangel Gallery, Frankfurt, 1901. Now he is referring to himself as Diehl-Wallendorf.


QUESTION:  Why did he choose ”Wallendorf” as his second name? Was his mother’s family from Wallendorf, near the Luxembourg border?


To further his studies, Diehl went to Frankfurt, where he studied etching and other graphic techniques at the Städelsches Kunstinstitut with Bernhard Mannfeld (1848-1925), who became his close friend and confidant. Through Mannfeld, the younger artist met the grand man of German naturalist painting, Wilhelm Trübner (1851-1917), who inspired Diehl to establish himself as an artist. With Trübner’s recommendation, he participated in his first group show at the  Kunstsalon Bangel in October 1900. The critics in the newspapers were quite positive in their assessment of this new talent–we know this, because Diehl cut out all of his reviews and kept them carefully organized in folders. One critic praised his ”quiet landscapes” as imparting a sense of rumination on life and stillness:

”Er malt ein ‘stilles Land’, das fast wie ein Phantasiebild anmutet, in welches der Maler eigene Gedanken über Friede und Todesruhe und eigene Töne zu legen weiss, die ihm alles Reale der Landschaft nehmen.’’ [in ‘’Kleines Feuilleton,’’ Frankfurter General-Anzeiger, 11.October 1900].


An example of one of Diehl’s earlier landscape paintings.

While he was described here as a landscape painter–he certainly wanted to be taken seriously as an academic painter, and landscape was the genre he most preferred–he was already trying his hand at every kind of artistic medium, from etching to woodcuts and other prints, from sculpture to glass design to painting. Ambitious and energetic, he needed to find a way to make a living as an artist, so realized the need to use his talents in the applied arts as well, and to experiment with a variety of styles. Still in Frankfurt, he had prints published in art magazines, most of them in the Jugendstil-inspired illustrative style of the time.

diehl_print_illus melk_ca1907

An early illustration in a magazine, ca. 1910.


QUESTION:  In Frankfurt, was he married and had a child?  No one in the family talked about it, but in Diehl’s documents is a photo of him with a little boy on his lap. Do we know for sure if this was his child?


At the invitation of his mother’s brother August Herb, who ran a decorative glass-making company,  Diehl moved to Vienna in 1906. He was to become a designer of glass windows and other decorative elements


Logo for Herb & Schwab (his uncle’s company), designed by Diehl ca. 1906.

for the company. Here he also created ex-libris for clients, continued to produce prints for magazines, and also tried to carve out a niche for himself as an established artist. Family stories claim that he wanted to join the Secession, but was rejected, a fact that he bitterly resented. In these early years, it does appear that he is experimenting with a variety of styles, and had yet to find his own artistic voice.

His designs for the company’s glass windows–stained glass was all the rage in Jugendstil-era buildings–were beautiful and successfully rendered, but obviously this kind of work was not enough to satisfy Hanns’s artistic P1020519ambitions.








QUESTION:  At about this time, he also designed the cover for the art magazine begun by his brother Gustav Eugen Diehl. Moderne Revue was an important avant-garde cultural magazine, and Gustav Diehl was very diehl_modernerevue_coverdesign_1906involved in the art publishing world of Berlin into the 1930s. Gustav was definitely more modern than Hanns, who had a reactionary streak even at this early date. Do you know anything about their relationship, or why Hanns would not have gone to Berlin, or been part of Gustav’s artistic circles?


Diehl’s life and art now becomes more complex, and intriguing. For now, I will consider this introduction as part I of the saga, retrieving the life of a forgotten artist.

Our friend Wolfgang in Bosnia

12 Dec

Wolfi’s wall of fame in our apartment.

We are now staying in the apartment of our friend Wolfgang’s wife Nora’s old apartment in Vienna. Wolfgang just returned from a very brief trip to Belgrade and Bosnia, and sent us this note about his time there:

”Belgrad was brief this time, just a meeting with the EU chief negotiator on Kosovo. By car from Bosnia, where I stayed overnight at the celebration of the person of the year, this time the Bosniak (=Muslim)  Mayor of Srebrenica. He survived 20 years ago the March of Death, following the genocide, committed by Bosnian Serb troops in July 1995. I had the task to impose the location of the cemetery and the memorial center for the 8000 men and boys systematically killed …in the middle of Serb territory…one of my toughest decisions…and it worked out, as we know today.”

Here is a link to the event he is talking about:

Just to remember how recently such senseless racist violence occurred on European soil, attacks against Muslims who had lived there for centuries, and how quickly and easily racism can lead to hideous consequences.