Happy 150th Birthday to renowned artist Gustav Klimt today. Left – Adele Bloch-Bauer II – is a 1912 painting he done, the only model to be painted twice by Klimt. Adele Bloch-Bauer was the wife of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, who was a wealthy industrialist who sponsored the arts and supported Gustav Klimt.
This portrait is a 1907 painting and according to press reports it was sold for $135 million to Ronald Lauder for his Neue Galerie in New York City in June 2006, which made it at that time the most expensive painting for about 4 months. It has been on display at the gallery since July 2006.
Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary, the second of seven children – three boys and four girls. All three sons displayed artistic talent early on. Klimt’s younger brothers were Ernst Klimt and Georg Klimt. His father, Ernst Klimt the Elder, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver.
Klimt lived in poverty for most of his childhood, as work was scarce and economic advancement was difficult for immigrants. In 1876, Klimt was awarded a scholarship to the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts, when his life turned towards art, which inevitably be a life long path.
Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’ was marked by positive critical reaction and success. Many of his paintings from this period used gold leaf; the prominent use of gold can first be traced back to Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901), although the works most popularly associated with this period are the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907-1908).
Trips he made to Venice and Ravenna, both famous for their beautiful mosaics, most likely inspired his gold technique and his Byzantine imagery. In 1904, he collaborated with other artists on the lavish Palais Stoclet, the home of a wealthy Belgian industrialist, which was one of the grandest monuments of the Art Nouveau age.
Klimt’s paintings have brought some of the highest prices recorded for individual works of art. In November 2003, Klimt’s Landhaus am Attersee sold for $29,128,000, but that was soon eclipsed by prices paid for other Klimts.
Below is another favorite: The Kiss, which was painted between 1907-08, the highpoint of his ‘Golden Period’, when he painted a number of works in a similar gilded style.