Klimt's Studies for the Painting "The Virgin"

Albertina Museum

Gustav Klimt (1917) by Moriz NährAustrian National Library

The numerous studies drawn in 1911/12 are characterized by outlines that serve many purposes. The models vary from being simple and natural to having a finely tuned appearance. Their expressions also range from introverted shyness to the highest levels of ecstasy. Due to this variety of types and the openness of the poses of the models, the studies go far beyond the painted result. Each sheet is an autonomous step in the process of internally focusing on this theme. Klimt would continue to deal with this theme with great intensity.

The Virgin (1913/1913) by Gustav KlimtNational Gallery Prague

In the allegory The Virgin (1913), Klimt comprehensively deals with the various stages of erotic consciousness for the first time. Using these stages, he characterizes the female existence—from young girl to mature woman. The puppet-like, dreamy figure of the virgin is surrounded by six women, who reveal a well-balanced program through their typological features, temperaments, and erotic moods.
Klimt spatially arranges the group in a new way. The nudes are shown in tortuous poses, with strongly accentuated body curves. The countours play a role both as a way of succinctly characterizing the figures and as a way of defining the space.

In relation to the figure of the shy girl sitting on the far right in the picture, he drew upright figures which he ancored centrally in the plane.

Standing Nude (Study for "The Virgin") (1911-1912) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

In his search for the basic attitudes and emotional moods appropriate in each case, Klimt experimented with different types of models.

Standing Nude with Bent Arm (Study for "The Virgin") (1911-1912) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

A number of voluminous, statue-like figures represent a phlegmatic, calm temperament.

Standing Nude with Face Bent Forward (Study for "The Virgin") (1911-1912) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

In the study of a model from a side view, Klimt emphasizes the continuous contour line of the bent neck and drooping shoulder.

The continuous lines of the chest, abdomen, and thighs have a rhythmic, decorative life of their own.

The pencil applied with constantly changing pressure creates a lively, pulsating effect, particularly in areas where the contours are enhanced by dense formations of strokes.

Seated Nude, Seem from Behind (Study for "The Virgin") (1911-1912) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Each work has its own character and specific mood. This study of a seated model as seen from behind is introverted and shy.

Seated Nude with Face Covered (Study for "The Virgin") (1911-1912) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Shame and grief characterize the expression of what is likely the same model but from the front. In terms of her position and figure, she is only loosely connected with the demonic-looking woman in the painting.

Nude with One Leg Propped Up, Seen from Behind, with Repetition on Left (Study for "The Virgin") (1911-1912) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Through the powerful, repeated contours of the back of the standing figure, who supports her elbow on her raised leg, Klimt particularly emphasizes the expansive, round shapes of her heavy body.

The Virgin (1913/1913) by Gustav KlimtNational Gallery Prague

In the figure in the lower right of the painting, Klimt combines her reclining position with an upright, levitating pose.

Reclining Seminude, Arms Crossed behind Her Head (Study for "The Virgin") (1911-1912) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

This deliberate ambivalence was explored in several of the preparatory drawings. In this study, he positiond the reclining model, who is seen from above at an angle, diagonally in the plane, so that the figure seems to float away.

The light strokes, combined with the smiling expression, essentially contribute to the carefree mood of this work. The round shapes of thighs and buttocks glow sensually between the drapery.

Girl with Puffy Dress (Study for "The Virgin") (1911-1912) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Dressed in a sleeveless top and billowing skirt, the model is related to the middle figure of the painting with her dancer-like pose and dreamy facial expression.

The Virgin (1913/1913) by Gustav KlimtNational Gallery Prague

Credits: Story

The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna

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.
Explore more
Related theme
Klimt vs. Klimt
From penniless unknown to the famous creator of The Kiss, get to know the contradictory life of Gustav Klimt
View theme
Google apps