We have just been for a few days in Vienna, and I was able to see my Egyptian Klimt in the flesh, as it were. She is one of the figures around the top of the main staircase. They are all wonderful, but I do like her the best.
She is hard to see, and even harder to photograph. But the setting with all the others is astounding. And then you get the best collection of Breughels in the world added in.
There is a telescope mounted across the staircase which lets you look at the paintings in detail, but it is so powerful that they are quite dark and you can only just about manage to see one eyeball at a time.
I tried my best with my little pocket camera.
We also visited the Belvedere, where I saw some of my other favourites, some badly photographed. There were many more.
I think she is wonderful. It is the contrast of her completely modern body against that fabulous backdrop of egyptian hieroglyphics that always catches my eye. This is what ancient Egyptians must have actually looked like. How Klimt got away with her flaunting herself like this on the main staircase into the new Royal gallery I don’t know. The Viennese were so messed up about propriety and sexuality. I can see why Freud had so much fun getting old Wienerins to talk smut to him. It’s an endlessly fascinating city.
My copy of Klimt’s egyptian goddess advances. I have just about completed her background. I can’t put off drawing her for much longer. Doing all of this in pastel is quite a challenge, in particular because of the small scale. The whole picture is only eight inches tall
I moved to Vienna when I was eight. We were taken to the Kunsthistorische museum on a number of visits. All I can remember was the egyptian carvings. I think I liked them, even then. I must have seen Klimt’s naked egyptian, up over the staircase. She made no impression then, but I was only eight! I look at her every time we go back now. She is glorious. High time I tried to draw her.
Klimt’s third posthumous portrait of Ria Munk was the one her mother liked and kept, even though Klimt himself died before he finished it. The first was of Ria on her death bed, which was a bit grim. The second was of Ria dancing semi naked amongst flowers. Her mother wasn’t too keen on that, although I can see what Klimt was getting at. The final on was accepted even though unfinished but it had an even sadder life. Stolen by the Nazis whilst Ria’s mother was murdered by them. I like the second version best, which I have seen in New York. I may try a version of it one day.
Ria looks a bit lanterned jawed in this sketch, but she does also in the original. It was unfinished…
Major alterations to the second figure. The line of her back looks much better, I think, after close study of some of Klimt’s sketches. Well, if he can’t draw a naked girl, no one can. To sort out her left arm I finally resorted to looking at myself in a mirror (don’t even start to think about it). It is really hard to make it look real, the smallest error in proportion just ends up with a wooden doll-like image. I have repainted the sky with crimson, which still looks bad, but much better than the original insipid sky-blue sky
I have posted my acrylic copy of Klimt’s Eve before, but I realised that I had taken a series of poor quality phone-photos of the picture at several stages in its painting. It is interesting to see how it developed. Initially I thought it would not work, but after I painted the leopard skin she stands on (hardly an advert for the Garden of Eden, where all is peace, harmony and vegetarianism…) I suddenly thought “I can do this” and carried on. Her hands don’t work well, but then Klimt never finished them in the first place, so maybe he was having an off day too. (He clearly was, he died before he finally completed them). One of my favourite paintings of all.
We have just watched a programme on the Art Nouveau in Vienna, with the inevitable huge presence of Klimt. I love his work and have tried to copy it on occasion with laughable outcomes. In addition to my completed version of Eve, I have done two birthday cards based on Klimt paintings, one of the inevitable naked lady with a glorious bottom, and one very chaste image of Schubert playing the piano for to singers ( I just drew the singers) I think the original was destroyed, like many of Klimt’s paintings, in a fire at eh end of the Second World War.