GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918)
GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918)
GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918)
GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918)

Dame en face mit plisiertem Kleid (Damenbilden en face)

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918)
Dame en face mit plisiertem Kleid (Damenbilden en face)
signed 'GUSTAV KLIMT' (lower right)
oil on board laid down on board
17 x 13 1/4 in. (43.2 x 33.8 cm.)
Painted circa 1898
Galerie H.O. Miethke, Vienna, by whom acquired directly from the artist.
Kommerzialrat Julius Reich, Vienna, by whom acquired from the above in 1909; his sale, C.J. Wawra, Vienna, 7 November 1922, lot 160 (illustrated).
Bernhard Altmann, Vienna, by whom acquired at the above sale, from whom confiscated by the Gestapo in June 1938; sale, Dorotheum, Vienna, 18 June 1938, lot 379.
Gustav Ucicky [the artist's son], Vienna, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna (inv. 5449) by bequest from the above in 1961.
Restituted to the heirs of Bernhard Altmann in 2004; sale, Christie's, New York, 9 November 2006, lot 363.
Acquired at the above sale; sale, Christie's, London, 4 February 2009, lot 32.
Private collection, Europe, by whom acquired at the above sale and thence by descent.
J. Dobai, Das Frühwerk Gustav Klimts (dissertation), Vienna, 1958, pp. 154-155.
Österreichischen Galerie, Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Galerie, vol. V, No. 49, Vienna, 1961, p.4 (illustrated fig. 6).
F. Novotny & J. Dobai, Gustav Klimt with a Catalogue Raisonné of his Paintings, London, 1968, no. 97, p. 309 (illustrated & illustrated again pl. 23; dated 'c. 1898-9').
J. Dobai & S. Coradeschi, L'opera completa di Klimt, Milan, 1978, no. 80, p. 96 (illustrated & illustrated again pl. XII).
A. Bäumer, Gustav Klimt, Women, New York, 1987, p. 46 (illustrated p. 47).
G. Frodl, Klimt, London, 1992, no. 1, p. 153 (illustrated).
G. Frodl, Gustav Klimt in der Österreichischen Galerie Belvedere in Wien, Salzburg, 1992, p. 50 (illustrated p. 51, titled 'Bildnis einer Dame').
T.G. Natter & G. Frodl, exh. cat., Klimt's Women, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, 2000, p. 80 (illustrated).
L. Payne, Essential Klimt, London, 2000, p. 85 (illustrated).
S. Lillie, Was einmal war. Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens, Vienna, 2003, no. 379, p. 53 (titled 'Frauenkopf').
A. Weidinger, ed., Gustav Klimt, New York, 2007, no. 115, p. 257 (illustrated).
T.G. Natter, Gustav Klimt: The Complete Paintings, Cologne, 2012, no. 106 (illustrated).
Vienna, Österreichische Galerie, Gustav Klimt: 29 Gemälde, ausgestellt im Oberen Belvedere aus Anlass der 100. Wiederkehr seines Geburtstages, October - December 1962, no. 4 (titled 'Damenkopf').
Tokyo, Sezon Museum of Art, Wien um 1900: Klimt, Schiele und ihre Zeit, October - December 1989, no. 96 (illustrated).
Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, Gustav Klimt, November 1991 - March 1992, no. 16 (illustrated p. 97).
Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich, Gustav Klimt, September - December 1992, no. G20, p. 110 (illustrated p. 111).
Madrid, Fundación Juan March, Klimt, Kokoschka, Schiele, Un Sueño Vienés, February - May 1995, no. 2, pp. 42 & 110 (illustrated p. 43).
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Michelle McMullan
Michelle McMullan Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Likely painted in 1898, Dame en face mit plisiertem Kleid (Damenbildnis en face) forms part of an important series of intimate oil portraits of women that Gustav Klimt created between 1897 and 1898; the work is also one of the few close-up bust portraits that the artist ever created. The paintings in this series both capture Viennese fin-de-siècle sartorial trends while also alluding to their sitter’s rich interiority, and in many ways, they serve as the aesthetic forerunners to Klimt’s later society portraits that feature women in opulent Wiener Werkstätte clothes. Although the woman in Dame en face mit plisiertem Kleid is unknown, it has been suggested, at various times, to be a portrait of the wife of the collector Dr August Heymann, but no such evidence exists to support this claim.
Dame en face mit plisiertem Kleid represents a pivotal moment in the artist’s oeuvre during which he transitioned away from the small-format, realistic portraits of his early career towards the lavish style that would come to define his later work. Indeed, one year prior, in 1897, he, along with twenty other artists, resigned from the Vienna Künstlerhaus and founded the Vienna Secession as a direct rejoinder to more conventional modes of representation. Such a momentous reconceptualization is encapsulated in the style of Dame en face mit plisiertem Kleid, and the painting offers a rare glimpse of an artist in the midst of a transformation.
While the hair and face of the subject have been rendered with careful precision, in line with Klimt’s earlier academic training and output, the pleats of her dress are more expressive and energetic, reflecting the artist’s love of Byzantine patterning as well as the influence of the bourgeoning Impressionist movement. Indeed, an enthusiasm for the play of light can be seen in the dappled effects glinting off the shimmering dress as well as in the bold sweeps of red and pearlescent pink. Klimt’s embrace of the decorative within this tableaux contrasts greatly with the soft modelling of her features and the luxurious fur collar; the combination of such elements further anticipates the artist’s synthesis of extravagant ornamentation with more finely detailed figurative components, a melding that would come to define the artist’s career.
With its strange, almost unearthly, lighting illuminating the woman's face from below, Dame en Face mit Plisiertem Kleid is rare amongst the society portraits in that it both announces and reflects the development of Klimt’s more symbolic pictorial language. The unusual perspective can also be seen in the figures found in his contemporaneous, albeit now lost cycle of paintings that had been commissioned for the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. These were organized in thematic groupings and downward-gazing figures are present in Philosophy, and to an even more dramatic and contentious effect in Medicine, especially the depiction of Hygeia, daughter of the god of medicine. Klimt has painted her draped in the Aesculapian snake, staring down at the mortals who pass beneath. Such perspective would be seen again in the choir angels of the Beethoven Frieze, 1902, on display in the Viennese Secessionist building, and alluded to in his Judith I, 1901, and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912.
Broadly speaking, Klimt’s portraits were commissioned by private individuals, such as Adele Bloch-Bauer, Hermine Gallia, and Friederike Maria Beer, among others, whose social standing helped to establish the artist professionally. But what unites paintings such as Dame en face mit plisiertem Kleid with the later society portraits was the artist’s own understanding of the genre itself: portraiture, for Klimt, was never exclusively about true likeness, but rather allegorical representation and emotional resonance. While somewhat more traditional in aesthetic than Klimt’s later portraits, the works of this period presage his full-length paintings of bejewelled women that characterised the artist’s work during the last decade of his life. As Klimt himself explained, ‘I am not interested in a specific personal appearance as a ‘subject for a picture,’ but rather am I interested in other individuals, above all women, and even more am I interested in other appearances’ (G. Klimt, typescript, commentary for a non-existent ‘self-portrait’, n. d., cited in A. Comini, Gustav Klimt, New York, George Brazilier, Inc, 1975, p. 9).
The painting, which hung for several years in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna, was previously owned by Bernhard Altmann, the textile manufacturer whose business and assets, including this painting, were seized by the Gestapo in 1938. In June of that year, by order of the Gestapo, the entire contents of the Altmann villa were sold. Dame en face mit plisiertem Kleid was acquired by Klimt’s son, Gustav Ucicky from this sale; the painting was restituted to Altmann’s heirs in 2004.

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