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Portrait of Gertrude Leo

Gustav Klimt • Painting, 1902, 149.5×45 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Portrait
Style of art: Art Nouveau
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1902
Size: 149.5×45 cm
Artwork in collection: - Vlad Maslov
Artwork in selections: 18 selections

Description of the artwork «Portrait of Gertrude Leo»

The 19-year-old daughter of the owner of the fashionable sanatorium of Vienna, a captivating portrait, a collection lost by the Nazis, the illegitimate son of Gustav Klimt and his model, finally, the sale for $ 39.2 million of “Klimt's best work for the last 20 years” at Sotheby's in summer 2015 and special the terms of the partition of the amount - all this is not just a picture. This is the plot.

The work of the genius of the Vienna secession was created in 1902. Here are the reviews of critics about the works of that period (including the portrait of Gertrude Loew), exhibited at the collective exhibition of the Secession artists in 1903 - 1904: “... the magical charm of shining looks is a hallmark of Klimt’s pictorial manner,” and “the most subtle lyrics that only can create an artist’s palette. ”

At that time, at the turn of the century, the artist gravitated towards an almost monochrome range, creating delicate, airy images of heroines. A captivatingGertrude then perfectly matched his picturesque views.

Our heroine was married twice: the first marriage was initially cloudless, and he designed the apartments for the couple Koloman Moser. However, the couple broke up after the early death of their only daughter. In a second marriage with a Hungarian industrialist, the couple had three children, but in 1923 her husband died of transient pneumonia: he did not put on his coat, returning from a nightclub.
Gertrude, the daughter of her father, continued to run the sanatorium, and her portrait of Klimt's brush held a place of honor in the hallway of the apartment.

The painting with the radiantly airy Gertrude Loew was recognized by Klimt's contemporaries and was included in the rare limited edition of 50 lithographs of his best works (a successful undertaking by art dealer Metke (HO Miethke)).

And now - not at all a rosy continuation of history. Under pressure from the Nazis, the Jewish Leo family left the country in 1939 and fled to the United States. Part of the collection remains in Austria, including a priceless portrait. Gertrude's daughter, Maria, returns there after the war, hoping to find the treasure. However, a family friend, who was instructed to keep an eye on the remaining values, sold the painting (most likely, for nothing), as they say, at gunpoint. Maria Leo did not come to Vienna anymore. She died in 1964 in California.

A portrait of Klimt’s brush after the war turned out to be the artist’s likely illegitimate son, Gustav Uchicki (Gustav Ucicky: his mother, 19-year-old Maria from Prague, worked as a servant in Klimt’s house). Gustav Uczycki created propaganda films for the Nazis in Vienna during the war. It seems that he was the one who bought the work in 1942. The widow of the filmmaker, Ursula, who founded the Klimt Foundation in 2013, “reached an agreement” in 2014 about the portrait with the granddaughter of Gertrude Leo. The proceeds from the sale of paintings in 2015 at the auction, it was decided to divide.

“This portrait shows the brave and determined nature of my grandmother. The strength of her character and beauty lives on this visual embodiment, ”said the granddaughter of the beautiful and forever young Gertrude, who was painted by the Austrian genius, Gustav Klimt.

The text was prepared by Olga Potekhina