Klimt's Studies for Female Portraits (1911–18)

Albertina Museum

Gustav Klimt in Anzug (1908) by Madame d'Ora, AtelierAustrian National Library

After taking a long break, Klimt again dedicated his time to a number of female portraits from 1911 onwards. He then emphasized the spatial and three-dimensional qualities of the figures in these studies, often capturing their outlines and clothing with short, nervous strokes or rich, repetitive lines. Following an altogether formal discipline, each individual presented is thoroughly distinctive.

Standing Woman, Facing Slightly Right (Study for the portrait "Paula Zuckerkandl") (1911) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Paula Zuckerkandl

Female portrait after Gustav Klimt, plate 47, The work of Gustav Klimt (1918) by Gustav KlimtMAK – Museum of Applied Arts

Klimt painted the portrait of Paula Zuckerkandl in the winter of 1912. It was likely destroyed in Berlin during the Second World War and is only known through a black-and-white picture.

Standing Woman, Facing Slightly Left (Study for the portrait "Paula Zuckerkandl") (1911) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The clear-cut studies for the portrait of Paula Zuckerkandl, in which the person portrayed confidently takes up various poses and wears a series of fashionable dresses, appear light-hearted and serene. Her slightly turned position creates a certain spatial effect where the shape of the lush décolletage under recessed light comes into play.

Standing Woman, Facing Slightly Left (Study for the portrait "Paula Zuckerkandl") (1911) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Seated Woman, Facing Left (Study for the portrait "Paula Zuckerkandl") (1911) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Standing Woman in Coat (Study for the portrait "Paula Zuckerkandl") (1911) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The down-tapered dress shows a modern touch. In this drawing, Klimt emphasizes the overall curved outline of the coat and inner lining.

Standing Woman in Coat (Study for the portrait "Paula Zuckerkandl") (1911) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Klimt applied great effort to creating the fine folds and patterns of her top, enclosed by her arms hanging down to form an oval-like shape.

Standing Woman with Cape (Study for the portrait "Paula Zuckerkandl") (1911-1912) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The drawing, which is highly similar to the painting, has a very different style of presentation and mood. In the Manila shawl with long fringes, Klimt cautiously characterizes the outlines and various structures of the ornamental layers tapering toward one another.

Unlike in the painting, the hands remain completely hidden.

With great care, Klimt defines the facial features of the woman. Her gaze appears to drift off into the distance.

Standing Woman with Arms Dangling (Study for the portrait "Adele Bloch-Bauer II") (1911) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Adele Bloch-Bauer II

Female portrait after Gustav Klimt, plate 45, The work of Gustav Klimt (1918) by Gustav KlimtMAK – Museum of Applied Arts

Five years after Klimt completed his first portrait painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer (1907), he painted her second portrait in 1912.

Standing Woman with Arms Dangling (Study for the portrait "Adele Bloch-Bauer II") (1911) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The heavy strokes in the studies for "Adele Bloch-Bauer II" evoke a melancholy mood. This study is dominated by a verticality that seems to flow endlessly. That includes the inner lining of the clothing with generous hatches and the heavy contours of the long cape, and the dense line structure of the sleeves which darkly protrude.

Klimt reduces facial features to a minimum.

Using highly differentiated, often extremely intermittent strokes, he attempted again and again to characterize the fabrics, strikingly distinguishing them from one another and causing them to glow in different ways.

These painterly effects achieved through purely linear means characterize the artist's late drawing style, with his preference for pencils that produced soft and saturated lines.

Girl Standing with Her Hands Resting on Her Hip (Study for the portrait "Mäda Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Mäda Primavesi

Mäda Primavesi (1903–2000) (1912/1913) by Gustav KlimtThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

The portrait of the nine- to ten-year-old Mäda Primavesi, completed shortly before Christmas in 1913, is the only child portrait Klimt was officially commissioned to complete.

Seated Girl Seen from the Side (Study for the portrait "Mäda Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

She was the daughter of banker Otto Primavesi, one of the most important patrons of the Wiener Werkstätte, and his wife Eugenia.

The eight drawings for this picture in the Albertina collection convey varied impressions through a wide range of poses.

Girl Standing with Hands Clasped (Study for the portrait "Mäda Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Mäda was considered a very bright, adventurous girl who was interested in everything.

Seated Girl Seen from the Front (Study for the portrait "Mäda Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Despite multiple sessions in the artist's studio, which were lengthy for the child, the studies provide vivid and unbiased impressions.

Seated Girl Seen from the Side (Study for the portrait "Mäda Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Klimt was known to have uncomplicated, immediate access to children.

Standing Girl in Coat, with Hand on Hip (Study for the portrait "Mäda Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Through spontaneous and concise strokes, Klimt records the changing facial expressions of the child.

Standing Girl in Coat (Study for the portrait "Mäda Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

As with his adult women, the artist used drawing to get at the essence of his young model - the difference being, that he clearly took into account the natural mobility of a child.

Girl Standing with Her Hands Resting on Her Hip (Study for the portrait "Mäda Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The studies therefore have a snapshot-like character and yet are marked by great accuracy in terms of their lines.

Seated Woman (Study for the portrait "Eugenia Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Eugenia Primavesi

Klimt also completed a portrait of Mäda Primavesi's mother Eugenia, who was then around 40 years old. He created the preliminary sketches for both pictures at around the same time.

Standing Woman in Three-Quarter Profile (Study for the portrait "Eugenia Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

This study for the portrait reveals that Klimt had some difficulty in finding a favorable pose for her because of her portliness. The powerful yet subtly differentiating lines convey light and vividness. The impression of an emphatic and matronly personality dominates.

Her arm is presented in an energetic pose and her hands are clenched into fists.

This clearly important detail reappears in the upper-right corner.

Her horizontal arm finds balance through the strongly accentuated curve of her shoulders, as well as through the curved ornament decoration of the long scarf falling over her shoulders.

Her slightly raised face looks out of the picture, and her mouth is slightly opened as if she is going to speak.

Standing Woman (Study for the portrait "Eugenia Primavesi") (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

In this final study, the upright person faces the observer directly and poses in front of a symmetrical, mountain-like structure. Klimt's emphasis here is on the multiple heavy outlines of the caftan-like robe produced by the Wiener Werkstätte.

The rounded shoulders dramatically emerge, and the energy of the contours seems to be transferred to the lines of the "mountain" flowing down on both sides with which the figure coalesces.

Sitting Woman with Hands Clasped (Study for the portrait "Amalie Zuckerkandl") (1913-1914) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Amalie Zuckerkandl

Image missing

The studies drawn in 1913/14 for the portrait of Amalie Zuckerkandl, which was left unfinished when Klimt passed away in 1918, are particularly vibrant.

Sitting Woman with Hands Clasped (Study for the portrait "Amalie Zuckerkandl") (1913-1914) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

In the study of the seated Amalie Zuckerkandl, Klimt resorts to a pictorial method which he had developed a year earlier in his drawings for the portrait of Eugenia Primavesi. Following this innovative principle, he merges the sofa with the enthroned directly facing the observer with the cushions towering behind her to form a symmetrical triangle.

In this example, his drawing energy is spent on the lushly flowing layers of clothing. Their borders and inner structures are alternately defined by long-flowing, vibrating complexes of lines and short, vibrant strokes.

The pole of serenity in these broadly sweeping currents of motion is formed by the face, frontal and inclined slightly to the left, with its vivid gaze and slightly open mouth.

A recurring motif in these studies is the loose-fitting, fur-trimmed coat which reveals a view of the deep décolletage.

Sitting Woman with Legs Crossed (Study for the portrait "Amalie Zuckerkandl") (1913-1914) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

In this study, the seated model in a curved pose rests her arm on an invisible piece of furniture, crossing her right knee.

Sitting Woman with Chin Propped (Study for the portrait "Friederike Maria Beer") (1915-1916) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Friederike Maria Beer

Portrait of Friedericke Maria Beer (1916) by Gustav KlimtTel Aviv Museum of Art

Friederike Maria Beer was an enthusiastic patron of the Wiener Werkstätte. The young, wealthy woman was friends with Hans Böhler, who kept in close contact with the Viennese avant-garde movement. Through him, she met Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt who both painted portraits of her.

Sitting Woman (Study for the portrait "Friederike Maria Beer") (1915-1916) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

As one of the few women portrayed by him, Klimt drew and painted Friederike Beer by including her feet, giving her personal, fashionable presence an individual touch.

Standing Woman (Study for the portrait "Friederike Maria Beer") (1915-1916) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Sitting Woman (Study for the portrait "Friederike Maria Beer") (1915-1916) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

In the study of the half-seated and slightly uplifted figure the focus is created by her directly looking face and her strongly pronounced eyebrows.

Sitting Woman with Chin Propped (Study for the portrait "Friederike Maria Beer") (1915-1916) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The study in which she sits facing front with her face propped and bent towards the artist seems to be completely detached from the preparations of the painting.

The thickening of the dark pencil lines around the chin makes the bright oval shape of the face glow like magic. With a tension between concentrated lines and at times extremely free ones, the artist achieved particularly intense psychological expression.

Standing Dancer in Profile, Her Head Turned to the Left (Study for "The Dancer" ["Ria Munk II"]) (c. 1917) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The Dancer (Ria Munk II) and Ria Munk III

The total of three posthumous portraits of Ria Munk have a dramatic backstory. The young woman was engaged to the scandalous writer Hanns Heinz Ewers. When he ended the relationship by letter, the 24-year-old took her own life in 1911 by shooting herself through the heart.

The lyrical study of a dancer (1916/17) was made for the revised version of the posthumous portrait "Ria Munk II." According to a later statement by Ria's cousin Erich Lederer, Klimt painted a topless dancer partially covered by a shawl over the original picture.

Standing Woman, Wrappes in Sheets (Study for the portrait "Ria Munk III") (c. 1917) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

A third posthumous portrait commissioned ("Ria Munk III") remained unfinished. The study of the figure anchored within the sheet like a pillar and wrapped in cloth has an almost metaphysical effect. Klimt dealt with these drawings more intensely in light of the posthumous aspect of the portrait.

To this end, he posed different models with multiple layers of patterned cloth wrapped around their bodies to emphasize the transcendental character of the figure.

The constantly circling pencil lines glide over the paper at changing rhythms, describing a multitude of abstract patterns.

Credits: Story

The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna

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