Zoom Into Klimt's 'Amalie Zuckerkandl'

By Belvedere

Amalie Zuckerkandl (1917/1918) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

Amalie Zuckerkandl (1869–1942) was the daughter of Viennese writer and playwright Sigmund Schlesinger. She was married to surgeon and urologist Dr. Otto Zuckerkandl.

Emil Zuckerkandl (1909) by Madame d'Ora, AtelierAustrian National Library

Otto Zuckerkandl's brother Emil Zuckerkandl was a famous anatomist and husband of the writer and art critic Berta Zuckerkandl, née Szeps. This is probably also thanks to Otto's contact with Gustav Klimt.

Amalie Zuckerkandl (1917/1918) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

Klimt was commissioned to paint Amalie's portrait in 1913/1914.

During those years, the master artist likely completed all areas visible today of the model's face and shoulders. These parts have been worked on to perfection and are essentially finished.

In terms of painting technique, the way in which Klimt meticulously brings out the contrast between Amalie's bright complexion and her dark, fashionably styled hair and eccentric black collar with white lace tied back in a bow is particularly sophisticated.

Lemberg (1943) by Joe J. HeydeckerAustrian National Library

During the First World War, Amalie Zuckerkandl resided in Lviv where her husband worked as a doctor. She herself worked in the hospital as a nurse. After she returned to Vienna, Klimt wanted to resume work on her portrait and created some pencil sketches.

Amalie Zuckerkandl (1917/1918) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

Klimt was not permitted to add that much more to the oil painting itself.

The background outlined in green suggests pencil-drawn flower ornaments in some places.

It is even possible to make out the dress and the scarf based on the draft.

Amalie Zuckerkandl's marriage to Otto Zuckerkandl ended in 1919. Around 20 years later, she was arrested by the National Socialists under the Nuremberg Racial Laws and murdered, together with her daughter, in 1942 in the Bełžec concentration camp in Poland.

Credits: Story

Text: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere / Franz Smola

© Österreichische Galerie Belvedere

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