Gustav Klimt: Allegories 1882–1897

The Wien Museum houses the world's largest collection of works by Gustav Klimt. This online exhibition presents some of the most important pieces of art in the collection: his Allegories

The Times of Day (1881) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

This early allegory still represents a relatively conventional approach: the individual Times of Day are personified by female figures. Morning is for example symbolized by the rising sun and a crowing rooster in decorative border on the left-hand side.

The Realms of Nature (1882) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

This work too follows conservative models; the figures are furnished with their attributes.

Youth (1882) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

The allegory of Youth takes the form of a young woman holding a child in one arm; a young boy, accompanying himself on the mandolin, serenades the child with a song, which doubtless heralds future happiness.

Fable (1883) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

The allegory of Fable takes the form of a young nude woman, who seems to observe the allegorical behavior of the animals in order to record it later in writing.

Idyll (1884) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

The scene is contained in a medallion, decorated with garlands of flowers and supported by two muscular youths who seem to watch over this emblem of harmonious concord with nature.

Opera (1883) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

Once again, the personification of Opera as a female singer, whose song is accompanied by a scantily attired man playing a lyre, corresponds to rather conventional conceptions.

Fairy Tale (1884) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

This allegory is characterized in particular by its pronounced pathos. No specific tale can be reliably associated with this erotically connoted scene.

Love (1895) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

In his allegory of Love, Klimt distances himself emphatically from the conventional representations of his subject for the first time. The menacing figures in the background endow the blissful love of this young couple with a melancholy note.

Junius (1896) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

In his allegory of the month of June, for the first time the division of the pictorial field into rectangles and squares—a picture within the picture— is important to Klimt.

Sculpture (1896) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

By presenting various busts from a range of cultures in the upper zone of the picture, Gustav Klimt undertakes a journey through the history of sculpture.

Tragedy (1897) by Gustav KlimtWien Museum

The wide collar of the main figure and the mask in its hands alludes to antiquity, the dragon can be traced back to Chinese designs.

Credits: Story

Abridged texts from the exhibition catalogue:

Klimt. The Collection of the Wien Museum

Editor: Ursula Storch
Editing: Ursula Storch and Kerstin Krenn

301 pages, Hatje Cantz Verlag 2012, ISBN 978-3-7757-3360-1

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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