Image courtesy of Neue Gallery.

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While Neue Gallery remains temporarily closed, they invite you to stay connected digitally. Video interviews with the curators, downloadable audio guidesinstallation views, and social media are wonderful resources through which you can learn and explore past and present exhibitions.

Every year, thousands of visitors flock to Neue Galerie New York to visit the splendid Klimt Gallery, which holds a very special lady: Adele Bloch-Bauer I, a portrait by Gustav Klimt, popularly referred to as “Woman in Gold.”

Few paintings have captured the public’s imagination so thoroughly. Klimt’s portrait of Adele not only rendered her irresistible beauty and sensuality; its intricate ornamentation and exotic motifs heralded the dawn of modernity and a culture intent on radically forging a new identity.

Adele possesses the rare distinction as the only person Klimt ever painted twice in full-length portraits. She and her husband, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, assembled one of Vienna’s most renowned art collections, which included paintings by masters of Vienna’s Biedermeier period, modern sculpture, an impressive array of porcelain from the Royal Vienna Porcelain Factory, and a stellar group of works by Klimt, including the two portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer and also landscapes. The Klimt paintings originally hung in Adele’s private apartment in the couple’s Vienna home.

During the years that Klimt labored over the commission, he spent time in Ravenna, Italy, where he visited the sixth-century Church of San Vitale. He was deeply impressed by the richly decorated Byzantine mosaics of the Empress Theodora and described them as of “unprecedented splendor.” His first portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer incorporates jewel-like areas that resemble semi-precious stones and layers of lustrous gold and silver.

In addition to the exceptional formal qualities of the painting, it is worth exploring the history and provenance of this work. We recommend the historical drama “Woman in Gold,” starring Helen Mirren as Adele Bloch-Bauer’s niece Maria Altmann, and Ryan Reynolds as lawyer Randol Schoenberg. The film is based upon the incredible true story of how Altmann, working in collaboration with Schoenberg, successfully sued the Austrian Government for the return of five Klimt paintings seized by the Nazis from the Bloch-Bauer family townhouse in Vienna during World War II.