The Klimt Villa in Vienna

The last studio in which Gustav Klimt worked is tucked away in this villa at number 11 Feldmühlgasse.

By Klimt Villa

Klimt Villa, Vienna, Austria

Gustav Klimt in the garden of his studio (c. 1911) by Moriz NährWien Museum

Gustav Klimt in the Garden of his Studio at Number 21 Josefstädter Straße. This garden pavilion, belonging to a townhouse built around 1709, was demolished in 1912. Gustav Klimt was given notice of termination a year before and had to start looking for a new workplace. After the scandal surrounding the Faculty Paintings, he sought a quiet, secluded refuge, in which he could progress his work without any interruptions.

Wien 13, Feldmühlgasse 11 (1918) by Moriz NährAustrian National Library

His search for a new workplace led Gustav Klimt to number 11 Feldmühlgasse in Vienna's Hietzing district. He rented a ground-floor building there, which was built around 1850 and greatly resembled his studio on Josefstädter Straße. The scandals of previous years, such as those surrounding the Faculty Paintings, had taken their toll. So he hoped he would be able to find peace in his new studio on the outskirts of Vienna, and to escape the public eye. The extensive gardens surrounding the Biedermeier-style house were intended to help him in his quest for peace. From 1911 until his death in 1918, he used the enchanting summer house as a studio. Around a fifth of Klimt's works were created here in his late style. This photograph of the building was taken by Moritz Nähr in 1918 after the death of Gustav Klimt.

Gustav Klimt at the Meierei Tivoli in Vienna (c. 1914)Austrian National Library

Gustav Klimt was already very familiar with the district of Hietzing, which is home to Schönbrunn Palace, and was very rural at the time Time and again, he and his friends made the then very popular excursion to Tivoli, which was located very close to Schönbrunn. Even after he had moved into the studio on Feldmühlgasse, he sought peace at Tivoli from his many visitors and admirers.

Costume Party with Gustav Klimt (1916) by AnonymousMAK – Museum of Applied Arts

This photograph shows Gustav Klimt—probably in 1916—attending a feast at the country home of the Primavesi family, in what is today the Czech Republic.

The Hietzing district was already a very prosperous district even then. For Gustav Klimt, the advantage was that his workplace was now closely surrounded by his clients. The Viennese villa belonging to the Primavesi banking family, for instance, was extremely close by. Gustav Klimt often socialized with the Primavesi family, and others, who commissioned his works.

Wien 13, Feldmühlgasse 11 (1918) by Moriz NährAustrian National Library

In addition to the photograph of the exterior of the studio on Feldmühlgasse, Moritz Nähr took two photographs of the interior, which have been preserved.

The first of these interior shots shows Gustav Klimt's lobby. Most of the furniture was taken from his previous studio. The box, the table, and the chairs were designed by Josef Hoffmann and made by the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops). The Backhausen carpet was also designed by Josef Hoffmann.

Gustav Klimt's studio at the Feldmühlgasse 11 (1918) by Moriz NährAustrian National Library

The second interior shot of Klimt's studio shows his actual work room. The central feature of this north-facing room is the large window that Klimt had installed. It gave him the optimum amount of daylight for his work. Two of his last pieces of work are visible on the easels. Dame mit Fächer (Lady with Fan)—shown on the right—was completed, while Die Braut (The Bride)—shown in the center—remained unfinished.

Klimt Villa Wien Nordseite by Baris AlakusKlimt Villa

Around four years after the death of Gustav Klimt, the Hermann family, who owned the summer house studio, started to extend it into a villa. Even before the new building was completed, the entire property was acquired by Ernestine Werner (married name Klein). The neo-baroque-style construction was completed in 1923. Aside from a few minor changes, the actual studio building was integrated into the ground floor of the new villa. Whether this was done out of respect for Gustav Klimt, or for pragmatic reasons is not known.

Klimt Villa Südostseite (2012)Klimt Villa

Since they were Jewish, the Klein family was persecuted by the Nazis, and the villa was expropriated. The family managed to escape the country. After 1948, they were given part of the plot of land and the villa was restituted. A few years later, the family sold the villa to the Republic of Austria. A school was then later established in the villa. After the school moved out and there was a recession, plans to either sell or demolish the villa came to light in the late 1990s. A citizens' initiative—later named the Klimt Verein (Klimt Association)—was then set up to fight for its preservation. To better convey their concerns to the public, the initiative developed the still commonly used, but historically incorrect term "Klimt Villa".

Box Windows on the Facade of Gustav Klimt's Studio, Located Inside the Villa.
After a long consultation process, the Republic of Austria decided against demolishing the so-called "Klimt Villa." In 2011–12, the building was extensively renovated and structurally restored to its 1923 condition. The ground floor was renovated in such a way that visitors could get an impression of what Gustav Klimt's final studio was like. At the heart of the design are the reconstructed lobby and Gustav Klimt's actual work room, his studio room. The reconstruction work was carried out as faithfully as possible based on the photographs of the two rooms by Moritz Nähr, and written descriptions from the time.

Gustav Klimt used this room as a lobby. He received potential clients here, and led any visitors who wanted to get to know the great painter into this room. The furniture set by Josef Hoffmann came from Gustav Klimt's previous studio on Josefstädter Straße. Highly accurate reconstructions were made by the graduating class of a technical school. The Backhausen carpet was also designed by Josef Hoffmann. Using the company's extensive archive, they were able to re-weave it in exact detail. The Chinese paintings and Japanese woodcuts were collected by Gustav Klimt and influenced his own art. Prints with similar motifs were selected from Vienna's Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) woodcut collection.

The studio room was also reconstructed based on the photography by Moritz Nähr. The painting utensil box in the left half of the room and the seated easel were designed by Josef Hoffmann. To create as faithful an impression of the room as possible, the large north-facing window—also designed by Hoffmann—was reconstructed. A total of 51 paintings, including well-known works such as Adele Bloch-Bauer II, Friederike Beer, Die Braut (The Bride), Adam und Eva (Adam and Eve), and many more, were created here. In addition to the many portraits of women, Gustav Klimt also worked on well-known landscape paintings here, such as Malcesine am Gardasee (Malcesine on Lake Garda), Unterach am Attersee, and Obstgarten mit Rosen (Orchard with Roses), which portray the garden surrounding the studio.

Special Exhibition "Lost Klimt"

Klimt is ubiquitous, and his works of art are world famous. However, not much attention is paid to the art of robbery, the disappearing artwork, and the stories of collectors, perpetrators, and victims. The Klimt Villa exhibition poses the question of how to deal with loss, which goes far beyond individual works of art. It also introduces the characters involved at the time, and the lost Klimt paintings themselves from a new angle.

The space directly above Gustav Klimt's former studio rooms was later used by the Klein family as a drawing room. The room is located on the first floor of the villa and was completed in 1923. It has two sets of double doors used to divide it into three separate rooms, and was formally used for show, and as a dining room. The room leads out onto the generously proportioned, "Rosenkavalier"-style stone stairway. The first floor of the villa also contained the servants' quarters. Gustav Klimt's former studio rooms on the ground floor were used by the Klein family as a bedroom and a billiard room, among other things.

Blumenbeet (2019) by Baris AlakusKlimt Villa

In 2017, 100 years after the death of Gustav Klimt, partial reconstruction of the historic gardens began. The gardens were planted with perennials and flowers that Klimt liked to paint. In total, 162 rose bushes of various varieties, 19 flowering and non-flowering shrubs, 271 flowering perennials, a multi-stemmed birch, and more than 1,600 bulbs were planted.

Klimt Rosen (2018) by Baris AlakusKlimt Villa

Two surviving rose bushes from Gustav Klimt's original garden were successfully recultivated over several years thanks to the work of "gardening legend", Professor Herbert Eipeldauer. The two original Klimt roses—now over 100 years old—are joined by 22 recultivated bushes to form the centerpiece of a Obstgarten mit Rosen und Blumenwiese (Fruit Garden with Roses and Flower Meadow), immortalized by Klimt in the painting of the same name.

Klimt Rosen (2018) by Baris AlakusKlimt Villa

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