About this artwork

This drawing is believed to be a study for the frieze Klimt painted in the central hall of Secession building in Vienna in 1902. The frieze was part of a group exhibition which paid tribute to Beethoven, and accompanied a controversial sculpture of the composer by Max Klinger. Klimt chose Richard Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as the theme for the frieze. The drawing was originally thought to show a standing woman, but it in fact relates closely to a number of similar studies of a woman lying down.

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt

Klimt was born in Vienna. He is probably best known for his portraits and paintings of mythological and allegorical themes. His work exudes a lush sensuality, evoking an age of luxury and optimism before the First World War. In his paintings, the figures are treated naturalistically but their clothing and the background is embellished with richly decorative patterns. Klimt also produced numerous drawings, many of which have an erotic aspect. In 1897, Klimt became the first president of the Secession group in Vienna. He also produced designs for the Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshops).