Klimt Studio ΠSociety

Klimt's portraits of women from wealthy Viennese Jewish families are renowned for many reasons. They reflect the world of a society which played a leading role in Vienna's cultural life around 1900 and during the years until the first world war.

From 1883 to 1888, Gustav Klimt was part of the "Künstlercompagnie" (Artists Company) and painted decorative schemes for architecture in a traditional academic style. The winds of change in art eventually led to the foundation of the Vienna Secession in 1897. Klimt joined with like-minded artists and developed an Austrian style of Art Nouveau known as Jugendstil in German-speaking countries. The stylized art of Jugendstil aspired to imbue every facet of life with art and to create an artistic synthesis or "Gesamtkunstwerk" (a total work of art).

When Klimt moved into the studio at Feldmühlgasse he was already an admired and highly paid artist.

The images here (next to this text) show which portraits were produced at Feldmühlgasse.

They are either whole-figure or half-figure portraits presenting themselves in front of an ornamental background. The gold of previous years has given way to a colourful array of blues and reds.

The geometrical patterns of textiles were transformed into blossom-like colour spots and the influence of Japanese art determines the areas surrounding the main theme.

If you allow these paintings to pass in front of your mind's eye you will notice a marked change. First, the standing figure is frontal, rather rigid and forced into a representative still position. But in later years, rigidity turns into a more playful and open posture and the portrayed woman may be shown from the side.