Gustav Klimt: “Portrait of a Lady” painting star showing in Rome

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ROME – Mystery still revolves around Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of a Lady” almost a quarter of a century after the image was stolen from an Italian museum, just for the beginning of what would become the coronavirus pandemic.

Who stole the artwork from 1917 and how it appeared on the outside walls of the museum is still unknown. But the portrait of a young woman with a sensual side-view will be part of a large-scale exhibition on the work of the Austrian artist, which opens in Rome on Wednesday.

Experts announced in January 2020 that a picture accidentally discovered the month before by a gardener deleting the ivy from the exterior walls of the Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in Piacenza was indeed the climax that emerged from the gallery in 1997. has disappeared.

The portrait against a dreamy, mossy green background was exhibited a few weeks ago when the museum in northern Italy had to close as part of Italy’s first coronavirus lockdown. Only relatively few visitors, mainly from the Piacenza region, had the chance to admire it.

Now, the portrait is just a show-stopper in the new exhibition, scheduled for Tuesday, at the Palazzo Braschi of the Museum of Rome. The exhibition also features the last, unfinished painting that Klimt worked on before he died in 1918, “Portrait of a Lady in White”.

A 34 meter long and 2 meter high (112 feet x 6.6 feet) frieze mounted on three walls of one of the palazzo rooms is another dazzling piece. Klimt conceived the frieze, which features senewy figures and glimmering sections, .as Hommage un de Ludwig van Beethoven an dem Komponist seng Symphonie n ° 9.

A few months ago, prosecutors officially closed their investigation into the theft of the “Portrait of a Lady”, with the statute of limitations on the crime expiring and the perpetrator or perpetrators never definitively determined.

“It’s a real mystery,” said Jonathan Papamarenghi, Piacenza’s culture commissioner, as he attended the preview on Tuesday. “Where it was all the time, even if it was in the walls all the time,” the image is still unknown, he told reporters.

The portrait was found, without its frame and wrapped in a black plastic garbage bag, behind the closed panel door of a compartment taken from the exterior walls of the Piacenza Gallery. During the years when the image was missing, all sorts of theories were launched about who could have torn it down. Medium offered to locate the work, and fake extortion attempts were reported.

The exhibition of Rome, entitled “Climb. The Secession and Italy”, portrays the artist as an influencer on Italian painters who were his contemporaries. It also explores Italy’s influence on the climate, as documented on postcards he sent from Venice, Padua and other places.

In a postcard from 1903, he wrote about the Byzantine mosaics he admired in Ravenna, saying that they were “unbelievable in splendor”. The dazzling colors and touches of gold in many of his works seem to draw inspiration from Italian artists of centuries past.

While Klimt was celebrated as a painter, bordering on the 19th and 20th centuries, various media were also exhibited in which the artist worked. An 1897 poster designed by Klimt and depicting a naked Theseus, the Athenian hero who fights the Greek mythological monster Minotaur, was censored by the Austrian authorities of the time, who decreed that the hero’s genitals must be hidden by a tree trunk.

The exhibition is enriched by about 30 drawings borrowed from the Austrian Klimt Foundation.

In a drawing, Klimt sketches his mother, Anna Klimt, with one of her clumsy hands on her lap. At the end of the long journey of the exhibition is a star cluster of sketches of lively, semi-naked women, including one in an erotic act.

The sketches are seen as preparatory studies for “The Bride”, which Klimt began in 1917, months before he suffered a stroke at the age of 55. He died a year later. In the exhibition, “The Bride” is the last image to be seen. It shows a happy sleeping bride and the sensual visions she presumably has in her dreams.

The exhibition runs until March 27, 2022, then moves to Piacenza, where the show, which begins April 5, 2022, is aptly named “Klimt Found Again”.

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