A knight in golden armor pushing on regardless of the evil snake obstructing his way fills most of the square canvas. The Austrian painter Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) began pursuing his own unique art practice after three paintings he was commissioned to produce for the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna were criticized as “pornographic.” The appearance of the knight, which references Dürer’s Knight, Death and the Devil (1513), is an allusion to Klimt’s own circumstances at the time. Regarded as one of Klimt’s most important works, Life is a Struggle was once owned by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s father, and was the first oil painting by Klimt to enter the collection of a public art museum in Japan.


  • Title: Life is a Struggle (Golden Rider)
  • Creator: Gustav Klimt
  • Creator Lifespan: 1862/1918
  • Creator Nationality: Austria
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date Created: 1903
  • Physical Dimensions: w100 x h100 cm
  • Type: oil, tempera and gold leaf on canvas
  • Rights: Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Purchased with funds donated by Toyota Motor Corporation

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