Description of this painting
This "gilded style" rendering of Adele Bloch-Bauer is possibly Klimt's most famous portrait. She was the only subject Klimt painted twice full-length, and in her day she was the subject of all of Vienna.
The story of his recovery is worthy of the mystery that surrounds it.
In 1945, Allied forces stumbled upon a treasure hidden in a dark cavern in the side of a mountain in Altaussee, Austria.
Inside, soldiers illuminated with their flickering lanterns some of the greatest European masterpieces ever created, including Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece, Vermeer's The Artist in His Studio, and Michelangelo's sculpture, The Bruges Madonna.
Hitler had stolen twenty percent of European art for his personal museum, the Führermuseum in Linz. Unfortunately, Gustav Klimt's paintings were not in this secret stash (Hitler was not attracted to Klimt's art).
Fourteen of Klimt's paintings had been left in the attic of Schloss Immedorf castle. These paintings were reduced to smoldering ashes when the castle was burned down by Nazi forces who wanted to prevent Allied forces from seizing its luxuries.
But one Klimt painting survived: the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.
At the end of the war, this painting was found in a former monastery, the Gotterdammerung.
Gustav Klimt painted what others could not see. As Adele Bloch-Bauer sat down for him, he watched as she nervously extended her crooked finger, her long, elegant fingers glued together. On her dress, she painted the Eye of Horus to symbolize royal power and used real gold over her oil paintings to denote divinity.
Klimt painted Adele as a queen, and all of Vienna couldn't stop talking about Klimt's "Golden Lady".
Adele was a Viennese society queen. Everyone in Vienna knew Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer, and they were one of the wealthiest Jewish families in the city. The Bloch-Bauers organized salons where the most famous artists, philosophers, composers, and poets discussed everyday life and shared ideas.
The painting is now in the collection of the Neue Galerie gallery in New York, after a legal battle between the painting's heirs and the Austrian government.
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