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Who is Adele Bloch-Bauer, Gustav Klimt's favourite muse?

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Looking at the works of Gustav Klimt you can see that the models almost always change, but there is a woman who appears several times and it is Adele Bloch-Bauer, a mysterious woman chosen by the Austrian artist different times for his works.

According to some scholars, the woman depicted in the works "Judith" and "The Kiss" is just her, Adele, a girl who represents the Viennese women of that time, a figure who is both vulnerable and strong, who faces the war period. In fact, this figure becomes famous in Austria in the post-war period and in Austrian culture the girl represented is nicknamed "the Austrian Mona Lisa".

Who is really Adele Bloch-Bauer?

Long-studied character and muse who inspires Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer is the daughter of an art-loving family who commissions Klimt to do several works. In the paintings by Gustav Klimt the woman appears melancholic, has big eyes and shows a certain nobility in her attitude.

According to those who knew her, Adele was an intellectual woman, with a detached character and it seems that despite her wealthy origins she appeared unhappy.

The first portrait of the woman is commissioned by her husband and is exhibited to the public for the first time in 1907. In this painting Adele shows herself on a stylized throne and her figure faces the viewer. Her gaze is both vulnerable and proud, while her hands in this case are crossed. Triangles and eyes surround the figure of the woman, while her raven hair is gathered in a large hat in this painting.

It is after 1900 that Gustav Klimt begins to paint female figures, focusing on the eroticism, confidence and strength of the fair sex. As for Adele, there are rumours at the time about an ongoing relationship between the painter and his muse, but no concrete evidence is found.

What is known is that after Adele's death the woman's room becomes like a sanctuary for Gustav Klimt.

In 1938, when Austria is annexed to Germany, several of the artist's paintings, including Klimt's portraits of Adele, are confiscated and pass from one owner to another. Only later, after the war, the works are exhibited at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, where they remain until 2006 when, after a series of long legal disputes, the works are returned to the only direct relative still alive of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer.

Maria Altmann, this is the name of the heir of Bloch-Bauer, after spending a fortune to have back her paintings, finally decides to sell the first portrait of Adele "Adele I" to Ronald Lauder, the heir of the cosmetic empire Estée Lauder, who is also the founder and director of the Neue Galerie of New York. In the contract it is agreed that the former owner of the painting sells the painting on the condition that it will always be in view. Finally, another painting, "Adele II", also belonging to Maria Altmann, is sold in 2006 by Christie’s to a private collector and it is currently on loan to the MoMA in New York.

Article by: Aurora Caraman.

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