The subject in this painting is Friederike Langer (1860–1927), who was born in Berlin and married Alois Riedler from Graz who worked as a professor at the technical college in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Fritza Riedler also frequently stayed in Vienna. Klimt was likely commissioned to paint this portrait by her husband. At the time, Klimt already had an excellent reputation as a portrait painter. For example, he had just recently painted a portrait of Margarethe Stonborough-Wittgenstein, daughter of the affluent industrialist and art patron Karl Wittgenstein. However, it was known to cost a lot more to commission a portrait by Klimt himself compared to paintings by other painters. And in fact, Klimt spent an unusually long time completing his portraits. It involved creating the perfect composition which conveyed a sense of idealism and harmony, and most importantly, a meticulous, technically perfect painting form. In the portrait of Fritza Riedler, for example, we can see how impressively Klimt depicts the fabric of the dress and the face and hands of the model with expertise, precision, and sensuality. This detailed realism is diametrically opposed to the almost abstract geometric shapes in the decorative pattern of the armchair and the design of the background. It is this confrontation between hyperrealism and ornamental abstraction often demonstrated in Klimt's portraits that is ultimately one of the master artist's greatest innovations. It helped his art extend far beyond the traditional Art Nouveau.


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