Standing Naked Couple, Embracing. Study for “This Kiss to the Whole World” from the Beethoven Frieze

Gustav Klimt1901

Leopold Museum

Leopold Museum
Vienna, Austria

During the summer of 1901, Klimt produced in a brief span a large number of studies for the Beethoven Frieze, a wall frieze for the Vienna Secession included in the celebrated Beethoven exhibition between April and July of 1902. This drawing of a standing, naked couple was the preliminary study for the final section of Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze depicting a couple locked in embrace. It illustrates This Kiss to the Whole World, which Beethoven adapted from Schiller’s Ode to Joy and set to music in the final chorus of his Ninth Symphony. It is Richard Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s symphony which guided Klimt’s thematic approach to the frieze. The artistic core of the Beethoven exhibition was the statue of the composer by Max Klinger, which was surrounded by a multitude of artistic contributions from the members of the Secession. The work’s graphic and two-dimensional design style undoubtedly singled him out and indicated a new direction for Viennese art.


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