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Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Hermine Gallia

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Hermine Gallia
Artist Gustav Klimt
Artist dates 1862 - 1918
Date made 1904
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 170.5 × 96.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1976
Inventory number NG6434
Location Room 41
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of Hermine Gallia
Gustav Klimt

This is the only painting by Klimt in a British public collection, and it’s a fine example of the portraits of society women he painted in the early years of the twentieth century. Wearing a shimmering dress made of translucent white chiffon, Hermine Gallia appears almost to float before us. The sinuous lines of her dress recall Art Nouveau and Japanese prints. The geometrical pattern of its lower half, and the mosaic-like design of the carpet, hint at the ‘Byzantine’ style Klimt was to adopt a few years later.

Klimt was the leading artist in Austria at the time. He was a founder member and the first president of the Vienna Secession, an association established in 1897 to promote modernism in art, design and architecture. Hermine Gallia and her husband were also important patrons of the avant garde.

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