Klimt was born in Baumgarten near Vienna, he studied at the art school there, and received official commissions in Vienna until 1897. He was the first President of the Vienna Secession, a modernist movement characterised by decorative line and respect for the two- dimensionality of the painted surface. He left the movement in 1904.
Klimt was the leading Viennese painter of the early 20th century, and influenced, amongst others, Egon Schiele. He was also important as a designer of architecture, furniture and costume.