Slope in a Forest on Attersee Lake

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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Slope in a Forest on Attersee Lake Gustav Klimt
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Gustav Klimt painted A Slope in a Forest on Attersee Lake in 1917, the year before his death.

While Klimt is better known as a portrait painter and decorative artist, particularly for his paintings of femmes fatales, his landscapes include some of the best of his work. He spent his summer holidays on Lake Attersee for many years and painted its landscape obsessively; locals called him the 'forest devil'.

A Slope in a Forest on Attersee Lake shows great sensitivity to colour and texture, characteristic of his style. Other landscapes, like A Field of Poppies and Tannenwald, take this further and seem almost abstract, but in this painting the view is still recognisable.

The bright greens of grass and trees are set off by the flagrant red of the houses on the lake. Rather than trying to create a naturalistic landscape, Klimt creates an almost collage-like pattern of trees and fields, astutely mixing a dark turquoise and near-yellow among the greens to add depth to the painting.

The composition of A Slope in a Forest on Attersee Lake divides the painting into three almost equal horizontal bands; the foreground and the lake itself, the village and its fields, and above, the forest.

The foreground is relatively open with a few large, dark trees, but the landscape becomes denser as the viewer's eyes move up towards the top of the painting; unlike most landscapes it never gets to the sky.

In A Slope in a Forest on Attersee Lake Klimt seems to have taken on something of Van Gogh's or Monet's approach, breaking up the subject into tiny individual points of colour.

There are no human beings in his view of nature, and no animals - just the colours of nature and the almost obsessive patterns of the landscape.