Nuda Veritas 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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Nuda Veritas

The German text above the beautiful painting is based on the words of poet Friedrich Schiller and states If you cannot please everyone with your actions or your art, you should satisfy a few. To please many is dangerous.

The painting was created in 1899, as Gustav Klimt entered the Secessionist Movement in Vienna; the piece relates to his classic work that was met with an array of criticism for it's nude sexual form. The Secessionist period at the time was gaining an immense amount of support, yet only included an elite group of people who had proved their ideology and wanted to transform the art scene. The painting is viewed as a form of rebellion against the classic realist empowered technique at the time, showcasing an inevitable transition within art. The black words engraved within the metallic material will later go on to influence Klimt as the masterful artist enters his gold phase.

The oil on canvas painting illustrates one of Klimt's favourite models, Herma, as she posed within and upright nude form. Many of the artist's portraits were based on the models in an upright position as Klimt felt that it was the most dominant and influential pose. Herma stands vertically still, with her arm to the side as she holds a looking glass in her right arm. The looking glass is meant to illustrates the woman analyzing the viewer in relation to the quote; up rising an array of emotions within the viewer as they ponder their own work. The persuasive quote forces the viewer to ponder upon their own life, questioning if they can relate to the work. A sense of hostility occurs as they witness the wonder looking into them as they look at her alluring form.

The muse's bright orange hair blends into the metallic colour of the portrait, accentuating both textures. Gustav Klimt adored Herma as she was his favourite model, the artist did not feel that the other model's carried similar prominent features as her. Most likely due to the fact that her bright orange hair curly hair different from the classic dark rich Austrian features of the other models. Herma is the protagonist within Klimt other prominent painting of Hope I, where upon her pregnancy the artist insisted that she still posed for him as he was engulfed in her beauty.

Nuda Veritas showcases the models beautiful body type as she stares directly at the viewer, catching their gaze. Her hair gently ends at the top of her breasts, showcasing them naturally. Her petite sized breasts are contrasted through her small waist and large hips that ever so slightly indent at the side. As the woman's thighs touch together, the artist added a light patch of public hairs that match the colour of her hair, creating a brighter approach to the piece.

At the feet of the woman, a snake slitters through and around, with it's tail hanging upon the title of the piece. The snake is used as a symbolism for the piece, perhaps as a reference to the biblical story of Adam and Even, in which the artist showcased in a future work. Yet, the exact symbolism of the snake remains unknown, however as a hostile feel to the presence of the woman, questioning her relating to the snake and the viewer themselves.

The patter near the upper part of the woman highly resembles an art deco pattern that seized the art world by the 1910's, however within the piece is a cornerstone of texture for the artist before his transforms his work into the remarkable gold phase he is most known for. Beneath the shades of black and gold, the artist uses a natural blue coloured impressionist styled swirling background to accentuate the presence of the woman.

The flowers within the woman's hair add to her purity, creating a contrast with the snake at her feet. Along the snake are two tall dandelions that stand; intriguing the viewer to question what exactly they wish for.