Highlights from Vienna 2: What do you mean, you’ve never written about Paul Delvaux?

I’m in Vienna – yes, showing off now and I booked in a visit to the Albertina as was excited to find that one of my favourite ‘only ever seen on a screen’ works was here.

I juat checked on the blog to see what I must have said about this painting and discovered, to my horror, that I have never said a word about it!!!

So, here for your delight and delictation (yes, I used to watch The Good Old Days!), I present, Landscape with Lanterns

It is so beautifully melancholy and it has been my laptop wallpaper for months because I cannot stop staring at it. Everywhere you look, something is happening, yet it has a stillness that can stop your heart.

Like Hammershoi, we have a woman standing in the foreground with her back to us. She is so still and yet she can see everything. Her hair and dress is so neat and fitted. Her back is rigid and she is clutching her hands together at breast height. Is she carrying flowers for the funeral that is going ahead?

Lampposts give light sources and create shadows. Walls with apertures create rooms but we cannot tell whether the walls continue out of frame.

Up ahead, two figures carry a shrouded figure on a stretcher. Is this who she is mourning? They seem to be going at a speed.

There is a device for communication- the telegraph pole, but its wires are cut. A symbol of passing into the afterlife, perhaps?

In the top of the canvas, naked women cavort in the moonlight, and if I am not mistaken, they are following or chasing a man. A common theme in Delvaux’s paintings.

Genuinely thrilled to see this today. Being able to see the brushstrokes, the wobble in the line of the lamppost and the way he created shadows makes travelling all this way so worth while!