The Fable 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 Fable

Prominent artist Gustav Klimt had imprinted his trademark within the Art Nouveau era by transforming his work into what he desires to create.

The artist had completed his studies in Vienna to become an artist, and was immediately hired by the Burgtheatre in which he painted murals depict the history and stories of the classical building. The artist practised his realist technique within the position as he painted actors, artists and the beauty of the theatre itself. During the 19th century, realism dominated the art style of Europe as it seized the natural elements of everyday life. Gustav Klimt had painted the realist artwork, The Fable, in 1883 as a sample cover for the book Gerlach&Schenk. The painting is a depiction of Allegory, and is one of the first self-contained paintings of Klimt. The masterful artwork throughout the piece added the special touch it carried, influencing Klimt to keep his own work.

The neoclassic piece depicts a natural setting, while incorporating an array of symbols and forms. A nude woman stands as the focal point of the painting, as her left arm lightly brushes upon the centre of her chest. Gustav Klimt was well known for showcasing the female body in its natural form, as he was fascinated by the curves and array of shapes that fill their structure. Klimt will go on to solemnly focusing on portraits depicting the female body, as they pieces carried a grace and spontaneous allure.

The woman within The Fable lightly poses in an upright position, with her right leg slightly bent and her face looking towards the floor. It is unknown whether Klimt had a woman pose for the painting, or due to the scenery was based on the artist's imagination. The painting is covered in a multitude of symbols and mysterious attributes to the painting. Within her right hand, the woman holds a scroll of paper tightly between her fingers. In her left hand, she grabs on to the white cloth as it covers her back. The woman holds western European features, differing from the classic Austrian faces the viewer is used in in Klimt's other work.

The allegory of the painting is showcased in the background of the painting. The woman stands outside in the wild, on a path deep within a forest. She is surrounded by vegetation, and most importantly wildlife. To the right of the woman, two black and white stocks fill the screen. The pair of animals balance on one foot, while they bend the other and pose in a dazzling form. Next to the exotic animals, a fox is prompt on his hind legs, with his mouth open in a begging form. The interesting mixture of animals causes the viewer to question what exactly is occurring.

To the right of the graceful woman, a large lion sleeps on the ground; gently among the wildlife outside. The lion is coloured in an array of shades of yellow, raging from light to dark yellow, the artist illustrates the lion's thick fur through soft brush strokes. Above the lion playing on a branch, three small white mice are depicted creating a balance between the large lion and tiny mouse. The four different types of animals portrayed against the canvas adds an interesting element within the piece, forcing the viewer to question what the symbolism between each is in regards to the woman.

The woman continues to stand in the middle of the art piece, seizing the canvas as the focal point of the whole painting. The woman reveals her body, illustrating her pale skin illuminated by the bright sunlight as she joins the animals around her in their natural setting. A Utopian theme is achieved through the artwork, as all creatures come as one, living in harmony. Perhaps this is the message the brilliant artist is attempting to depict within the beautiful artwork.