Back in July my family and I watched The Woman In Gold with Helen Mirren, about the famous Klimt painting that the Austrians ‘kept’ for years from the rightful owners. It was this film, and the subsequent book that was the inspiration for my month of femininity and women. I can’t really explain the reasons why, now, but at the time it made perfect sense. I think I was inspired by the beauty of the painting and the femininity of it.
The story alone is rather remarkable. A well known Jewish woman in Austria who is a patron of arts has an impressionistic painting done of her. During WWII the painting is stolen by the nazis (I will not capitalize that word) and the museum in Vienna keeps the painting for years saying it is theirs and was willed to them by the woman. Well, not so and the woman’s niece fights to get it back.
Okay, brief story. Watch the film or read the book THE LADY IN GOLD: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt‘s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
by Anne-Marie O’Connor. It is a serious page turner and the information in that book will leave you hating Austria…FYI.
Adele Bloch-Bauer was a stunning beauty of the early 20th century in Vienna. Her relationship with Gustav Klimt was ‘interesting’ because there are several opinions and things you could infer from the accounts of their relationship. Klimt was a masterful artist and his portrait of Adele is incredible. I’m not sure when I first saw it, but I knew about it long before I saw the film. Klimt’s The Kiss is another famous painting from the same time period and is considered Art Nouveau, a shoot off of impressionism. Which, since I love impressionism, is why I find these paintings so stunning.
Sensual, stunning, a ‘goddess’ to look at. There is something mysterious about them. And maybe because of all the gold used, yes, actual gold leaf applied in mosaic patterns, it looks like it should belong in a king’s palace.
Klimt’s work is stunning in my opinion, and it is a shame some of it was lost in the war. Fortunately some of his amazing works are still available to be seen. His portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer is hung in the Neue Galerie and is open to the public, one of the stipulations of the sale of the painting by Adele’s niece. One day, I hope to be able to see it in person.
But even if I never get to see any of these paintings in person, I can still admire the artistry and talent of Klimt. And for those wondering, I highly recommend the film, The Woman in Gold, along with the book. I seriously think both need to be used in high school curriculum as they have so much history in them, especially regarding the Jews during WWII.