The Husband of the Woman in Gold

So, I’m not completely current with Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 8.17.24 PMmovies these days, but I know that Woman in Gold is in theaters here and in the US (or it was recently). If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I am a pretty big Klimt fan, but I thought I would wait until I got home to see the movie (as movies in the theater here run about 20 CHF).

When I got the book on library e-loan (titled The Lady in Gold), I read it over the course of about four days. While I don’t particularly recommend the book, the content interests me a great deal. The storytelling leaves a great deal to be desired. It tries to be too many different stories all at the same time with so many characters who enter and exit at a whim. The myriad of details do not add to the narrative, and often the thrust of the story is hopelessly buried beneath trivia.

Nonetheless, I learned things about this painting that I saw when it was first moved from Vienna to Los Angeles. You can see as many photos of this painting as you want, but when you see it in person, it is breathtaking. Stunning.

When I saw it at LACMA, I vaguely knew that it had some sort of history as a stolen painting, but I didn’t know anything about Adele Bloch-Bauer, the subject. What I now know is that there is a Zürich connection to Adele. When her husband Ferdinand left Austria after her death and during the war, he moved to the Hotel Bellerive on Lake Zürich.

Oskar Kokoschka (one of the other Viennese Secessionist painters) painted a portrait of Ferdinand in lederhosen with a hunting rifle which Bloch-Bauer chose to donate to the Zürich Kunsthaus. When I read that, I decided that I needed to revisit the art museum for a look-see, especially since I can find no picture of that painting on the internet.

Art museums cannot display their entire collections, and though I found about five Kokoschka works at the museum, I did not see Portrait of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer as a Hunter. I probably should have asked someone about it, but I decided that if was going to be on display, I would have seen it there.

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The Knight, Death, and the Angel 1

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Portrait of Else Kupfer, 1911

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2 thoughts on “The Husband of the Woman in Gold

  1. It’s quite a coincidence, that you’re blogging about this book. Just this morning I was reading a sample of The Lady in Gold. When you mentioned it a while back, I put a sample in my Kindle. I agree with you that it’s not inspired writing at ALL, but it is informative, and I’m thinking about either getting the entire Kindle or (if Carleton has it) a library copy. I’m spoiled lately, since I’ve been reading Ann Patchett, who is a really marvelous writer, I think, so pedestrian writing styles bother me. But even in those sample pages I learned that Wittgenstein (Ludwig) paid for the Secession, and I probably should have known that years ago.

    I am fairly sure I know which castle Klimt lived in on the Attersee, one of my favorite Austrian lakes, because I have a much-loved cousin who lives on that lake, about half a mile from that castle, and with a view from her sunroom out onto Schloss Kammer (check the internet for Klimt’s paintings of that castle). It’s a magical place.

    By the way, I think you should go back to the museum and ask whether they have that portrait of Ferdinand in storage. They may let you see it, and you’re not likely to run across it anywhere else. Many museums are very glad to accommodate a request like that, and the worst that can happen is that they say no (or tell you that it is presently on display in L.A.).

    I loved the photos of the figures in the Kloster. I am going to miss this blog as much as you are going to miss trains or heisse Schogi, and that’s saying a lot!

    ~Anne

  2. Pingback: Claremontographer in NYC: Klimt Exhibit | claremontography

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