The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer is a painting that stays with you. What will haunt you is the story behind the painting and the Bloch-Bauer family, from its creation in Belle Epoque Vienna to how it landed in New York’s Neue Galerie in 2006.
“Repentance was scarce. Austria was awash in self-pity. Vienna was a ruin.”
Vienna was blooming with culture and mainstream acceptance of Jewish citizens in 1907 when the painting was completed. Artists catered to the emerging upper class Jews and broke the accepted boundaries with their styles, as well. The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer was seen by many as the pinnacle of fashion and modernism.
Adele herself passed away in 1925, leaving the painting to her husband until his death, when she wished that it would be displayed in the Austrian National Gallery. Then the Nazis came and threw Vienna into a tailspin that would take decades to recover from. Anti-Semitism meant that everything was stripped from the Jews: their art, their homes, often their lives. Great works of art were bounced from hiding place to castles to shows, where they often had their original titles “Arayanized.” The people fled into hiding or death camps. The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer became the Lady in Gold, losing the Jewish name and celebrating the Austrian painter, Klimt.
The war ended, but the governments kept the paintings. The heirs were left to battle in multiple courts to prove ownership and in the case of The Portrait, didn’t get it back until 2006. The lives lost and the stories that flow from this one painting will haunt, sadden, anger, and stick with you indefinitely.
The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Anne-Marie O’Connor
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Knopf (February 7, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307265641
- ISBN-13: 978-0307265647
This books was provided to me by the San Francisco Book Review.