Zoom Into Klimt's 'Lady at the Fireplace'

In Lady at the Fireplace created around 1897/1898, Klimt shows a great affinity with portraits of international symbolism for the first time

Green and Violet: Mrs. Walter Sickert (1893 - 1894) by James Abbott McNeill WhistlerHarvard Art Museums

Comparable portraits include, for example, those of American-born and London-based painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

Lady at the Fireplace (1897/1898) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

A characteristic feature of these symbolist portraits is a certain mysticism, created, among other things, by a dimly lit atmosphere and blurred outlines. The painter avoids characterizing his subjects in more detail and leaves them in their anonymity.

It seems important to the painter to create a special mood and atmosphere in this portrait. The fashionably dressed, elegant lady conveys a metropolitan elegance, and her dream-like depiction corresponds to the sorrowful image of women often invoked in literature.

Seated Young Girl (1894) by Gustav KlimtLeopold Museum

The contrast between the pastel-like painting style in Lady at the Fireplace and the recent photo-realistic portraits such as Young Girl Seated created by the master artist in the mid-1890s shows the versatility of Klimt's painting style within just a few years.

Lady at the Fireplace (1897/1898) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

The exact circumstances behind Lady at the Fireplace are not known. Nor is it known who this elegant lady is. Still, anonymous portraits of women were not uncommon for Klimt. He evidently took pleasure in capturing a certain type of fashionable lady.

It is safe to say that Klimt was also concerned with capturing a certain attitude to life, a certain flair, which he evidently felt emanating from elegant ladies. Depictions such as Lady at the Fireplace capture a specific moment and reflect spontaneous feelings.

Credits: Story

Text: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere / Franz Smola

© Österreichische Galerie Belvedere


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