Portrait of a Lady 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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Portrait of a Lady

Gustav Klimt's Portrait of a Lady is a part of the painter's immense array of artwork that showcase portraits of women in copious forms.

The prominent piece was produced near the end of Klimt career, roughly between 1816-1817. The painting is composed in a expressionist style, while featuring minor impressionist techniques within the work. Upon an X-ray of the painting in 1996, an analysis revealed that Portrait of a Lady was painted over one of Klimt's previous paintings, Portrait of a Young Woman. Art critic and historians predict that the original piece, Portrait of a Young Woman, was a sketch of a woman the artist was deeply in love with. Then due to her rapid death, the painter had covered the work with the face of another woman.

The dark history behind the piece adds to the elements played within, up rising an array of questions and emotions as the viewer feels pity for the artist, yet ponders their rapid dismal of the original sketch. The artist life was filled with a cluster of heartbreak, through the death of his son, lover, and rapid death of his father and brother which brought his mother and sister into a rapid depression.

The artwork is drenched in shades of blue and green, adding a cool composition to the array of brushstrokes. The background is covered in a moss green shade, with minor colour shifts incorporating light and dark shades. A warmer blue colour is used near the face of the woman to highlight the face of the muse, as she ponders at the viewer.

Gustav Klimt favoured his muses to be seated in an upright position where all their features are illustrated in exact precision. However, the Portrait of a Lady showcases the woman angled to the side with her back slightly bended towards the floor. The new position adds depth into the portrait, as the artist is able to contour her body shape.

The woman stares directly at the viewer, meeting their gaze as her teal eyes seize their sight. A classic trademark of Klimt within his portraits are immensely portraying the rosiness of the cheeking, adding life into the dull coloured skin. The woman's rounded eyebrows hug her face, transitioning the dark colours into her rich up do. The woman's lips are coloured in a blood red colour, opening her small mouth showing a glimpse of her teeth. The interesting accent within the woman's face is the black beauty mark located beneath her eye, the interesting location adds to the character of the woman.

Due to the context behind the painting, it is incredibly unlikely that the woman is a muse of Klimt, as the artist had quickly repainted the canvas to a new portrait, covering his history behind. The woman is dressed in a patterned white dress that lightly covers the back of her neck. Klimt uses an expressionist technique to gently blend the shapes together, yet illustrates a simple pattern.

The strong shades of green throughout the background of the piece blend pleasantly with the blues engulfed within the muse. Together the shades highlight the piece cultivating a poetic canvas.