Cows in the Barn 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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The traditional painting, Cows in the Barn, by Gustav Klimt manifests an oil on canvas exposition of the real life events during the 19th century.

Klimt had travelled to Golling in the summer of 1899, and was seized by the presence of cows within a barn that he had painted as the scene meets the eye.

The painting illustrates a dark piece that mixes an impressionist technique with elements of realism. Klimt's work remains detail oriented, incorporating the different textures throughout the piece, accompanied by an array of shades.

Cows in the Barn illustrate four large cows, feeding on hay within a dark barn. The prominent cow located on the left of the painting, holds the focal point of the piece as its form is specifically painted and illuminated. The cow is covered in brown and white, with the white fur as the focal point of the painting. The cow's legs deepen into a darker shade of brown into a black bottom. The colours at the front of the animals face are split between brown and white near the left eye. The mammal is illustrated with large white horns coming out the top of the its head, gently bended to the side.

The rest of the cattle are blended into the deep background, with minor details manifested in each. The remained of the cows have chocolate brown fur, accentuating the pattern of the brown and white cattle. Alongside, this specific cow holds the focal point of the audience, as the cow meets the viewer's gaze. There seems to be stubble glimpse of emotion and exchange between the viewer and the cow. Perhaps it is a power dynamic that arises as the humans' cattle the creature, or a beautiful element of nature to manifests one's emotion, seeing the beauty in all.

The colour scheme that fills the painting is rich colours of brown to darken the inside of the barn, due to the lack of lighting. Small glimpse of yellow and grey are used to shade and contour the structures found within, including the hay and grey walls, however overall the colours within the painting remain dark.

Art critics throughout history have analyzed the piece, questioning why the Klimt decided to depict a scene of cows within a barn. Perhaps the artist's city life was transformed once entering the countryside; dazzled by the different life style, desiring to seize a glimpse of it to showcase back in the city. Another humour question that arises through the piece is whether Klimt sat directly within the barn to paint the photo. Or, if the piece was based on him revisiting the memory once back in his studio.