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  • Gustav Klimt
    Jul 14, 1862 - Feb 6, 1918
  • Judith I - Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. His major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects. Klimt's primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by a frank eroticism - nowhere is this more apparent than in his numerous drawings in pencil.
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Judith I
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  • Judith I

  • Gustav Klimt
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  • 1901
    Oil on canvas
    60 1/4 x 52 3/8 in. (153 x 133 cm)
    Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Austria.

    Judith was the biblical heroine who seduced and then decapitated General Holofernes in order to save her home city of Bethulia from destruction by the enemy, the Assyrian army. The subject was quite popular from the Middle Ages onwards, as an example of virtue overcoming vice. However, this work is not timeless allegory, since Judith is depicted as a Viennese society beauty. The model was Adele Bloch-Bauer and if we compare it with her portrait it is easy tosee the facial similarity. There seem to have been two principal Klimt types. The first was this dark-haired woman of angular build, also seen in Judith II. The other favorite was the fleshy, Rubenesque beauty portrayed in Danae. Judith's sensuality and her orgasmic expression as she holds up the head of Holofernes shocked Vienna. the Viennese could not bring themselves to see this brazen femme fatale, who is clearly taking pleasure in her actions, as the pious Jewish widow how risked her virtue in order to save her city. A far more acceptable solution was to insist that this was a picture of the murderess Salome, despite its being titled on the frame, and for a long time the painting was erroneously known as 'Salome'.

    Judith herself has in a sense been decapitated. The heavy gold choker she wears, fashionable in early twentieth-century Vienna, rather brutally separates her own head from her body. Her clothes half conceal, half reveal her body. The stylized gold band at te bottom of the picture looks as if it might be an ornamental hem to her garment, but then cuts across her abdomen like a flat belt. The painting was bought almost immediately by Klimt's Swiss contemporary, the painter Ferdinand Hodler (1853 - 1918), whose work Klimt much admired.

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Other paintings by Gustav Klimt:

The Church in Cassone (Landscape with Cypress)
The Church in Cassone (Landscape with Cypress)
Danae
Danae
The Park
The Park
Tree of life 1909
Tree of life 1909
Gustav KlimtGustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna, Austria. He was educated at the Vienna Kunstgewerbe Art School in the years 1879-1883. Klimt was also an honorary member of the Universities of Munich and Vienna. His major works include paintings, murals, sketches and other art objects, many of which are on display in the Vienna Secession gallery. His work is distinguished by an elegant use of gold backgrounds and mosaic patterns. This can be seen in Judith I (1901), and in The Kiss (1907). Art historians note an eclectic range of influences contributing to Klimt's distinct style, including Egyptian, Minoan, Classical Greek, and Byzantine inspirations. Klimt was also inspired by engravings of Albrecht Dürer, late medieval European painting, and Japanese Ukiyo-e. Klimt was one of the founding members of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) and of the periodical Ver Sacrum. He left the movement in 1908. He died in Vienna of pneumonia and was interred at the Hietzing Cemetery, Vienna.