The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt

Adele Bloch Bauer et the Woman in gold 1907

The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was completed by Gustav Klimt in 1912, after painting her twice. The artist owned several works by the model Adele. After Adele’s death in 1925, the works belonged to her son Ferdinand. However, when the Nazis came to Vienna and the city was occupied, Ferdinand fled to Switzerland with his family and many of his valuable works. Unfortunately, the Nazis also stole the Klimt painting in 1941 and arrested Adele’s husband Ferdinand and he was later accused of tax evasion.

Adele Bloch-Bauer I

Although a religious icon, the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer has been categorized as a secular portrait. Klimt never used the same model twice. In 1903, her father Ferdinand Klimt commissioned Klimt to paint a portrait of Adele for their parents’ anniversary. However, Klimt was not without controversy. After his pornographic murals, Klimt was blacklisted from state commissions and the University of Vienna banned him from further artistic projects.

The famous artist was inspired by Adele’s romance with literature and found her to be irresistible. She studied German, English, and French literature and became a model for her husband. Although she was unhappy throughout her life, Klimt’s paintings became part of her family’s possession. After her death, Adele’s husband, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, donated her paintings to the Galerie Belvedere.

woman in gold

Stolen History

The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer was stolen by the Nazis in 1938. After many years of legal wrangling, it was returned to its rightful owner. In November 2006, the Neue Galerie in Vienna auctioned the portrait for $138 million. The painting was bought by Ronald Lauder, a billionaire who has been trying for years to acquire classic art with Jewish connections. His collection includes a number of Klimt paintings and works by other artists.

After she married Ferdinand Bloch in 1897, Klimt met Adele and painted her portraits together. Despite the fact that Klimt was famously a womanizer, Adele is believed to be Klimt’s only female subject. Klimt depicted her wearing a choker, just as he did with Judith in the Judith and Holofernes.

Paintings by Gustav Klimt of women

The Austrian artist Gustav Klimt is best known for his gilded art nouveau portraits of women. His best known works include Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (1907) and The Kiss (1907). Klimt also made use of the Symbolist pastiches in his work, which celebrated the intersection between fine and decorative art. Klimt’s works are held in major collections worldwide and routinely sell for millions of dollars on the secondary market.

Unlike many of his other works, Klimt’s paintings of women aren’t based on religious icons. They feature real women. They’re often depicted in a lyrical, erotic discourse. Klimt also used his paintings of women to explore the changing roles of women during the avant-garde. Klimt’s golden women are seductive, provocative, and strong.

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