Klimt's Studies for the Faculty Painting "Jurisprudence"

Gustav Klimt (1917) by Moriz NährAustrian National Library

The 1903 faculty painting "Jurisprudence" represents Klimt's new monumental art strongly marked by linearity. It is far removed from the atmospheric mood in "Philosophy" and "Medicine". His work on the Beethoven Frieze (1901/02) was a decisive factor for this change.

Jurisprudence (1898-1903, slightly revised until 1907) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

Three haggard vengeful goddesses entwined by dark bundles of lines tower above the curled-up "sinner".

Face of a Woman with Her Hands at Her Cheek (Study for "Jurisprudence") (1903) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The uniformly thin and almost brittle lines in black chalk are far removed from the sweeping contours of the Beethoven Frieze studies. Klimt uses them to depict the outlines of the sunken cheeks and geometrically stylized hands.

The linearly structured hair has an almost woodblock-like character.

The slanted slits of the eyes under drooping eyelids are an essential element of her brooding, melancholy facial expression.

The works of Belgian sculptor and graphic artist George Minne were hugely significant for the expressively angled gestures and expression of mourning.

Woman with Hands Folded (Study for "Compassion" of the "Beethoven Frieze") (1901) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Since the Beethoven Frieze, Klimt became increasingly interested in the modern "Gothic" style of George Minne, who would be a decisive influence in the early Expressionism of Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele a few years later.

Seated Woman in a Pleated Dress (c. 1903) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

In a style and with motifs similar to the studies for "Jurisprudence" emerges this fully autonomous drawing of a woman facing the viewer and sitting with her legs crossed. With her gaze defiantly fixed on the viewer, she appears to be a variant of the middle vengeful goddess. She seems to exist in reality but is no less memorable for that.

Gustav Klimt's Painting 'Jurisprudenz' (1903) by Moriz NährAustrian National Library

Seated Woman in a Pleated Dress (c. 1903) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The magnetic effect of this study is not only created by the hypnotic pair of eyes, but also by the strongly symmetrical composition.

Klimt's characteristic tension between sensual immediacy and a higher order—between organic life and abstraction—manifests itself on this sheet with particular clarity. The subtle outlines make the shoulders and arms arranged in a V-shape stand out brightly.

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The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna

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