In 1892, the year in which Gustav Klimt turned 30 years of age, his life was filled with much personal sadness.
He suffered the loss of his father and beloved brother Ernst, which was a huge loss both personally and professionally, as he had collaborated with each of them on some of his earlier projects.
These two losses also impacted greatly upon his work and style of painting. A much darker and sombre tone came into his work, following the triumphs and accolades enjoyed after their work on the Old Burgtheatre (1888-1889).
After Ernst’s death, his beautiful wife, Emilie Floge, became Klimt’s close companion, life-long friend and the subject of one of his finest paintings. The Portrait of Emilie Floge was created in 1902 which was at the earlier stages of his glorious “Gold Style” period, and unlike some of his other paintings during this phase this painting was not overwhelmed with gold, but is used in a more subtle way, with a sea of bright and vibrant colours throughout the painting. Klimt wrote his signature within a square of gold leaf, making it a decorative feature. This portrait is a truly magnificent full-length study of Emilie, and hints at the closeness and affection they both shared.
Emilie was herself an artisan and no doubt a great support and comfort to Klimt immediately following the deaths of his father and brother. Needless to say, there were endless rumours that the two were also lovers, which may well be true, but because Klimt was so discreet about the many women he loved, he would never confirm or deny either way.
Their Bohemian lifestyle and love of art and bold colours crossed over into each others’ work. Floge had a fashion design studio in Vienna, and Klimt designed many dresses including the one she is wearing in her portrait. Klimt loved to wear large oriental style kaftans whilst working in his studio, which he had also designed himself.
TITLE : Portrait of Emilie Floge
PAINTED : 1902
FORMAT : Oil, Gold Leaf and Silver Leaf on Canvas
SIZE : 181 cm x 84 cm
GUSTAV KLIMT WEBSITE : http://www.klimt.com
LOCATED : Wien Museum, Karlsplatz, Vienna, Austria