Church in Unterach on Attersee 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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Church in Unterach on Attersee

The Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt, explored his summer getaway to Attersee Lake for the summer to inspire a new array of ideas and styles into the artist's work.

Klimt is well known for his detail oriented technique in painting oil on canvas portraits that incorporate patterns, bright colours and gold leafs. Klimt is known to explore an array of styles such as realism, impressionism, modernism, and the mosaic style.

The painting, Church in Unterach on Attersee, illustrates a grand white church upon the shores of the lake. The artist was not able to get any closer, nor paint his masterpiece on a moving boat, so he was provided binoculars from the other side of the lake to sketch the beautiful masterpiece.

Klimt positioned himself in a small village called Weissenbach with binoculars, and painted the detailed onion shaped church and structures around it. The artist uses the water on the canvas to act as a reflector for the buildings above, perhaps the actual visual representation Klimt encountered when viewing the church from across the lake.

The piece carries no lines of perspective, and is a flat illustration of the views that meet the eye. Due to Klimt using the binoculars to witness the muse of his painting, a horizon is not illustrated, and instead interesting shapes are used to attract the viewer's attention.

The painting illustrates an immense multi-floored church, bending towards the top in an onion shaped dome. The roof of the church is drenched in a traditional black colour, paired with the white exterior walls flowing towards the water. The columned bell tower that leads to the dome of the church holds as the focal point of the painting, even as it is partly cut out and located at the top centre of the canvas. The church's architecture holds arched columns, similar to the Italian architecture at the time, accompanied by lush green vines growing on the surface of the white walls.

A similarly styled white building is located to the left of the painting, with the classic boxed shape and rectangle English windows that open towards the presence of the lake. To the bottom right of the church, a few buildings are placed next to one another, forming a small community by the water. A rich mustard boathouse is located directly upon the shore near a dock. Small colourful boats line the shore of the lake under a huge array of trees that are blended together by the artist.

The flat surface of the painting extends behind the buildings located within the piece. A colour palate of shades of green is used to accentuate dark green trees, bringing attention upon the buildings. Behind the trees, a salad green coloured hill emerges seizing any glimpse at the sky. The artist uses horizontal brush strokes on the greenery and church to widen the painting, however uses small vertical strokes upon the buildings to elongate the work.

The style of the piece reflects a classic technique of impressionism to illuminate the painting. Klimt continues the detail into the water as he paints a reflection of the village onto the clear lake. The water is vertically coloured, based on the reflection of the buildings and trees, through deep shades of white, green and brown. Red is used throughout the piece to emphasize a few cornerstones, such as the bell tower of the church and the detail of the buildings, creating a focal point to bring in the viewers attention due to the flattened landscape.