The Hydra 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 Hydra

Gustav Klimt revolutionized the art world upon entering the 20th century, through his array of mosaic styles, bright colours and Art Nouveau mastery.

The Austrian symbolist painter had created The Hydra in between 1904 and 1906. The painting depicts a light flow of women, continuing his theme of the female body within water. Some of Klimt's similar works include that showcase the female body submerged in water include Goldfish, Medicine, and Water Serpents I. These artworks portray the female form in a beautiful array of colours and finishes.

The Hydra illustrates two pale women embracing one another as their bodies blend into a mermaid form. The two women have gold colour hair, with thick strand illustrated in each as they wave together. Through much of Klimt's gold phase, the artist had used gold leafs to epitomize different textures. The artist used a balance of gold plated, sculpted in the composition of hair to unveil the painting. A theme displayed through all of the artist's paintings of woman submerged in water is their lush hair intertwining with the environment. The outstanding woman of the artwork closes her eyes and arches her back as she holds the other woman on her chest, exposing one single breast. Her hips flow throughout her body until her flesh blends into the mosaic style throughout the painting.

Gustav Klimt had lightly painted the skin of the woman to reveal a smooth surface, while focusing more so on the bright patterns around the painting. A strong emotion of care is depicted through the painting as the viewer is able to witness the woman holding her counterpart, as if she is consoling her. The other woman is blended much more into the painting, as some viewers are not able to witness her presence. Their copper hair blends into one another, alongside their skin mending as one.

To the left of the prominent woman, her body lays on a white layer of sheen that is covered in gold swirls, as classic pattern Klimt showed within his painted which symbolizes the years of life. The gold swirls are covered in an outside fabric that resembles fish scales; this pattern covers the artwork in a mosaic style. Rather than the fish scales being covered in cool tones of blue and green, their flesh is arranged in shades of bronze, pink and black that adds an Art Deco style to the work. The mosaic pattern transcends through the piece, only to lead to another pattern. A gold patchwork covers the bottom section of the painting, with small lines that swirl into small circles. This pattern intertwines on top of the Art Deco fish scales and gold swirls.

A strip of black material covers a section of the painting, with small silver gems adding a shiny sheen to the dark colour. These arrays of colours and fabrics continue as a moonstone planet pattern covers the tail of the woman, blending into large black circles. To the right of the woman embracing, a glimpse of green emerges through linear lines that flow within the painting to add shade. At the bottom right, two circles mesh together as one in the portrayal of a whale. Together these colours continue to the top of the painting, adding more colour and light through the mosaic masterpiece.

Gustav Klimt's strong eye for colour and beautiful patchwork is manifested through The Hydras. A green vine covers the women's body, similarly styled to seaweed. A bright arrangement of funky shades peeks out the upper left corner of the artwork, adding dark reds and rich yellows into the Art Deco styled artwork. While the art piece came previous to the prevalent Art Deco movement that seized the art scene, Klimt had his on mark on the classic movement that seized decades of style.