The first stop on our rhine river cruise brought us to Breisach Germany and Colmar France. We docked on the German side of the river in Breisach and our excursions for the day were in both Germany and France. For the morning my family took a windy bus tour to the black forest while I stayed in Breisach to do a painting, mainly because I get motion sickness very easy and the cruise director warned that the trip to the black forest was very windy and if you get motion sickness to beware. So I opted to stay in Breisach where I found Robin Hood’s castle.Breisach Germany was high above the rhine river, and at the very top was a cathedral called St. Stephansmünster. My first order of business was to navigate the maze of streets and get to the top of Breisach and next to the cathedral, I was sure I could find something to paint up here.
Here is the view from the top of Breisach Germany, right next to their cathedral. The cathedral was nice, but it was raining and I couldn’t find a dry place around it to paint, nor could I find anything that interested me enough to paint until…
After walking around a bit I caught a glimpse of the top of a tower and wondered what it was. Soon I found myself in a outdoor theater that was themed for a Robin Hood play. Complete with a large tower, battlements, gates, small houses and everything I needed to paint including a covering over the auditorium seating. I spent an hour and a half doing a painting here before I got too cold and returned to the ship for a nice hot beverage.
The Robin Hood Stage Painting Setup
The Robin Hood Tower I Painted
After everyone returned from the black forest excursion and we had lunch Pattie and I went on an excursion to Colmar France.
This is Unterlinden Museum, it was closed at the moment because they were renovating it, but its amazing artwork was moved and we would be able to see it later. Colmar France is where we first learned of the massive amount of bikes in Europe and the crazy people that operate them. Here you have to watch out for the cycle paths, or more accurately “psychopaths”.
The architecture of Colmar France was gorgeous and we learned of one of their most treasured artists Hansi. Hansi (1873-1951) was born Jean-Jacques Waltz in Colmar, in the French region of Alsace. A pro-French activist in a German-occupied area following the Franco-Prussian War, he worked as an artist and produced satirical drawings which mocked the German authorities.
The we walked to the spectacular St Martin’s Church. The magnificent church had been constructed between 1234 and 1365 which was a very short span of time for the building of such large buildings at this time. The structure was beautiful and tremendously imposing. It was so large and heavy that they could only finish one of the spires because its weight was too much for the ground it sat upon and would surely fall if they build both spires.
The interior of the church was even more spectacular.I was amazed at the size of just one of the painting in this church. I had Pattie take a picture of me under this painting to show just how large it is. It had to be about 12 feet tall.
Next we learned of another famous sculptor which everybody knows of. If you have seen the statue of liberty in New York city then you have seen a work of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Here we stopped at a sculpture outside of Musée Bartholdi. This was the birthplace of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and shows his life and work through paintings, drawings, family objects and furniture as well as numerous plaster, metal and stone sculptures. We didn’t go into the museum but I did get a bunch of pictures of the magnificent sculpture, “Les grands soutiens du monde” − 1902, outside of it.
The Unterlinden Museum was closed but we were able to see all the works usually housed in the museum because they were moved to another church. Here you see me in front of a work that I had only experienced in art history class in school and until today I have only seen this in a book, the Isenheim Altarpiece.
The Isenheim Altarpiece is an altarpiece sculpted and painted by Niclaus of Haguenau and Matthias Grünewald in 1512–1516. By far Grünewald’s greatest and largest work, it was painted for the Monastery of St. Anthony in Isenheim near Colmar, which specialized in hospital work. The Antonine monks of the monastery were noted for their care of plague sufferers as well as their treatment of skin diseases. The image of the crucified Christ is pitted with plague-type sores, showing patients that Jesus understood and shared their afflictions.
Seeing the painting close up was unsettling, especially when looking at the way Grunewald treated the hands and feet of Christ, they were grotesquely malformed and twisted which really showed the horror of plague victims.Regardless of its painful description of Christ it was a wonder to see in person. There were many other works in this church as well as some amazing wood work around its interior.