Auditorium in the Old Burgtheater Vienna Gustav Klimt Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Upon Gustav Klimt's completion of art school in Austria, he was hired as an artist for the Burgtheatre in Vienna to paint an array of portraits and murals for the theatre.

The Old Burgtheatre in Vienna was set to be abolished, Klimt and his colleague Franz Matsch, were commissioned to paint a portrait of the beautiful theatre that seized the hearts of thousands throughout the years.

The Auditorium in the Old Burgtheatre (1988), is an intricate piece of Klimt, as he successfully illustrates an array of specific details throughout the piece. The painting includes roughly 200 small portraits of upper class individuals who spent a great deal of their time at the theatre.

The difficult task required Klimt to paint a large number of Vienna's high society in their exact form. From officers to government members, artists to the famously rich, hundreds of people desired to be included within the piece. Once the Mayor of Vienna heard he was not included in the piece, Klimt was required to go back and paint him in.

The painting is an incredibly detail oriented piece, showcasing the classic style of the theatre in it's original form. It illustrates the view of the theatre from the side of the stage, looking out into the audience. The floor of the theatre is covered in folded wooden chairs with red velvet covers. The seating extends into the sides of the theatre through four levels.

Gustav Klimt spent an immense amount of time carefully painting the miniature portraits of the prominent guests throughout the piece. Each of the 200 individuals within the piece was to be met with a detail-oriented brush to accentuate their features and characters.

The viewer is able to see multiple men dressed in classic black suits, however all with different facial characteristics. From moustaches to beards, baldheads to curly black hair, and even contoured face to hefty men, Klimt painted each individual as if they were their own painting.

A similar attention to detail was paid to the woman within the painting. The artists accentuated each woman's attire through classic characteristics showcasing their silhouette. From silk to white ruffles, to beading and layers of clothing, the viewer is able to witness the different textures and materials the wealthy woman were dressed in.

The classic theme located throughout the painting is of the rich upper class of Vienna at the time. Klimt was an individual who was in love with his own work and the passion behind his art more so than wealth.

The painting illustrates the luxurious life style of the high society, drenches in luxurious silks and pearls, spending their evening within the theatre. Klimt was able to incorporate the prosperity of the individuals while highlighting the beauty of the theatre, and all of the stories that took place within.