The Story of a Painting - Klimt's Woman In Gold


Gustav Klimt continues to be one of my favorite painters. I just love his Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, also called The Woman in Gold or The Lady in Gold.

The portrait was painted between 1903 and 1907 and was commissioned by Adele's husband. A second painting of Adele was created by Klimt in 1912. Adele died in 1925 from meningitis. Klimt died in 1918 from the worldwide flu epidemic.

This was the last piece Klimt painted from his gold period, which he began in 1898, influenced by Art Nouveau and early Christian Byzantine mosaics. It measures 54 by 54 inches. It was painted in oil with gold and silver leaf on canvas. In the painting Adele wears a jeweled choker and her dress almost disappears into the detailed background

The painting was stolen by the Nazis in 1941 when Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer fled Vienna for Switzerland. The Woman in Gold was displayed for many years at the Galerie Belvedere.

The Austrian investigative reported Hubertus Czernin reported in 1998 that the Galerie Belvedere had several paintings stolen from the rightful Jewish owners in their collection and refused to return them. Ferdinand's niece, Maria Altmann hired a lawyer to try to regain five Klimt images. 

It took seven years and a hearing in front of the United States Supreme Court for Altmann to get the painting of her aunt returned to her. The Woman in Gold was sold in 2006 to Ronald Lauder for $135 million. Lauder displayed the painting in the Neue Galerie in New York which he co-founded. This is where it is still displayed.

The Lady in Gold book by Anne-Marie O'Connor is available on Amazon. Click here.

A movie called The Woman in Gold was released in 2015 and starred Helen Miren and Ryan Williams.

You can purchase The Woman in Gold Movie here.