The Dancer 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 Dancer was one of Klimt's last paintings and was completed between 1916 and 1918 as an oil on canvas.

With a distinctly oriental and sensual feel, this beautiful image features a young woman, her head turned to the side, holding a bunch of bright yellow daffodils.

Just behind her are a group of anonymous figures, who also appear to be wearing oriental style clothing. The woman's clothing is open, exposing her breasts and the colourful gown she is wearing blends into the background in a riot of floral patterns and colours.

This was characteristic of Klimt's later pieces where anatomy and ornamentation almost become one. Her black pantaloons are just visible and on her feet she wears highly detailed shoes with the fashionable Louis heels of the time, decorated with bows.

Klimt was fascinated with "oriental" culture. He owned a collection of books about the East and a wardrobe of Japanese and Chinese costumes too.

Additionally, Klimt would have been well aware of feminine fashions due to his close friendship with fashion designer, Emilie Floge as he had drawn some fashion items for her salon too.

Although it is not clear who the woman in the painting is, it seems that the inspiration came about through a failed commission. He had been asked to paint a second portrait of Aranka Munk's deceased daughter Ria Munk.

However, Klimt struggled with the painting which was supposed to depict Ria's "joie de vivre" when she was alive, rather that the deathbed version he had already completed.

Klimt wrote to his companion, Emilie, that he couldn't make the "likeness" and his image of the client's daughter was finally rejected. Klimt went on to complete the painting, portraying the bare-breasted, alluring female now known as The Dancer.

It has been suggested that he based the portrait on one of his models, possibly a dancer.

The Dancer is a wonderful, colourful vision capturing Klimt's talent and unique style, just before his death in 1918.