Klimt's Portait of Johanna Staude

By Belvedere

Belvedere, Wien

The portrait of Johanna Staude (widowed Widlicka, 1883–1967) is one of Gustav Klimt's last works. The design of the dress in particular is evidence that Klimt did not complete the painting.

Johanna Staude (1917/1918) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

The portrait may not have been a portrait commission in the traditional sense. Klimt was friends with Johanna Staude and she likely modeled for him several times, just like she posed for Egon Schiele.

Johanna Staude (widowed Widlicka, 1883–1967) described herself as a painter, although we do not know of any works she produced. Little is known about her employment. What we do know is that she worked for a time in the household of well-known writer Peter Altenberg.

Johanna Staude definitely had a certain artistic flair, as indicated by her extravagant appearance, especially her fashionable short hairstyle and dress made of a Wiener Werkstätte fabric.

The material of Johanna Staude's blouse was designed by Martha Albers, a graduate of the Vienna Arts and Crafts School, under the name "Blätter" (leaves) for the Fashion Department of the Wiener Werkstätte. A blouse made of the same material from around the same time is also included in the Belvedere collection.

Blouse Johanna Staude (around 1910) by Martha AlberBelvedere

For Klimt, who was very interested in Wiener Werkstätte products, the fabric pattern was important enough to be reproduced as faithfully as possible. He painted the background of the portrait orange, presumably to enhance the effect of the blue fabric of the blouse.

Johanna Staude (1917/1918) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

Johanna Staude's eyes are a shining, bright blue. It is only the mouth that is visibly unfinished. When the model asked why Klimt never finished this painting, the master supposedly answered: "Because you would never come back to the studio."

Credits: Story

Text: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere / Franz Smola

© Österreichische Galerie Belvedere


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