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Gustav Klimt (1862 - 1918)

Lot 296: Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)


February 8, 2005
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


Alte Frau
signed 'Gustav Klimt' (lower right)
oil on canvas
37 1/2 x 18 1/2 in. (95.3 x 47 cm.)
Painted in 1909

Artist or Maker

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)


Vienna, Kunstschau Wien, Summer 1909, no. 7 (illustrated).
Venice, IX Esposizione Internazionale di Venezia, 1910, no. 15.
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Gustav Klimt, 1992.
Paris, Musée du Luxembourg, De Fra Angelico à Bonnard, Chefs-d'oeuvre de la Collection Rau, July 2000 - January 2001, no. 85.
Bergamo, Accademia Carrara, La collezione Rau, Da Beato Angelico a Renoir a Morandi, Sei secoli di grande pittura europea, January - May 2002, no. 85.


Zeitschrift für Bildende Kunst, XX, 1909, no. 222.
I. Hatle, Gustav Klimt, ein Wiener Maler des Jugendstils, Graz, 1955.
F. Novotny & J. Dobai, Gustav Klimt, Salzburg, 1967, no. 162 (illustrated p. 346).
C. Nebehay, Gustav Klimt, Dokumentation, Vienna, 1969, pp. 417-419 (illustrated p. 417).
Rizzoli Editore, L'Opera completa di Klimt, Milan, 1978, no. 148 (illustrated p. 104).


Frank Lloyd Wright.
Piccadilly Gallery, London, by 1974.
Félix Landau, Paris.
Acquired on behalf of the Foundation in 1983.



Alte Frau belongs to a series of challenging, dark-ground figure pictures Klimt executed in the years 1907-1910. The most striking characteristic of this series is not perhaps the sombre tonal qualities which most share but rather the dramatic emergence in each of the figures' features. A similarly bold composition is Klimt's celebrated Dame mit Hut und Federboa (N.D. 161) and Mutter mit Kindern (N.D. 163), both exhibited alongside the present work at the Vienna Kunstschau in the Summer of 1909. In Alte Frau the carefully nuanced treatment of the fleshtones, with daring inclusions of blue and turquoise, belies the potential weight of the subject.

Unlike his Viennese contemporaries Schiele and Kokoschka, Klimt seldom tackled subjects of a grave type. In terms of gravity, perhaps the closest relation to Alte Frau in Klimt's mature output is Tod und Leben (N.D. 183) of 1911, where the heavily cloaked figure of Death echoes the encapsulated female figure in the present work. Moreover, in the original version of Tod und Leben, before Klimt's overworking, the bowed head of Death had an even greater affinity with the present work.

The Vienna Kunstschau of 1909, in which the present work Alte Frau was first exhibited, offered a thrilling overview of contemporary European art. Paintings by Schiele and Kokoschka hung alongside works by Edvard Munch, Félix Vallotton, Henri Matisse and Ernst Barlach, while the towering figures of Van Gogh and Gauguin were also generously represented by some twelve pictures.

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Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

February 8, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

London, United Kingdom