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A city with many dark secrets

The Lady in gold

Title: The Lady in gold
By: Anne-Marie O'Connor

Gustav Klimt’s portrait of the wealthy socialite Adele Bloch-Bauer, painted in a mosaic pattern using gold leaf, was commissioned by Adele’s husband Ferdinand Bauer in 1907 and today is considered a masterpiece. Adele Bloch-Bauer died of meningitis in 1925, at the age of 45. She was spared witnessing the 1938 Nazi march into Austria, the loss of the Vienna she loved so well, and the end of an era rich in culture. The painting was confiscated by the Nazis, renamed The Lady in Gold to eliminate any reference to the Jewish owner, and displayed in Vienna’s Belvedere Art Gallery, where it remained for several decades.

Klimt’s portrait of Adele is just part of the story. The painting is a backdrop to the heartbreak of a husband who lost his wife too soon, his loss of her beloved portrait to the Reich, the atrocities of the war, and the fate of friends and family of Adele’s who died in concentration camps or escaped Austria to live their lives elsewhere. Years after the war, Adele’s surviving relatives play David to the Government of Austria’s Goliath in a battle over who is the rightful owner of Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I and other Klimt paintings owned by the Bloch family. This is a fascinating read, rich with stories that bring to light a facet of the war that is still being dealt with.

View similarly tagged posts: biography

Posted by websterp on June 14, 2015 at 10:38 a.m.
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