DR JACQUELINE NOWIKOVSKY JOINS BONHAMS IN VIENNA
Three influential sketches by Gustav Klimt, that played an important role in the development of the artist’s oeuvre will lead Bonhams Impressionist & Modern Art sale at Knightsbridge, London on 30th October. They are offered for sale in Gustav Klimt year, the celebration of the famous Austrian artist’s 150th birthday.
Klimt’s intimate sketches of women show the artist’s clear mastery of the female form. They all form part of The Goldberg Collection, a striking set of iconic artworks not seen in public since 1982, which includes other impressive works by artists such as Max Ernst, Salvador Dali and Fernand Léger.
‘Liegender Frauenakt mit schlafendem Kind im Steckkissen’ (Reclining female nude with sleeping child in swaddling clothes), a delicately drawn sketch executed in the crayon that Klimt favoured at this time, is the top lot in the sale with an estimate of £30,000 – 50,000. The sketch uses elegant and deft lines and includes the barest of details to capture the scene. Far from being a simple sketch, however, it is imbued with overtones representing a sense of unease typical to men of the artist’s time, where conventional stereotypes of women were challenged. While the woman in the drawing is depicted as sexually provocative, she is also shown as protective of her child.
Stehende Dame von vorne, mit leichter Drehung nach links (Marie Henneberg) (Standing lady from the front, with a slight twist to the left (Marie Henneberg)) is another of Klimt’s important drawings. Estimated at £12,000 – 18,000, it was a study for Klimt’s ‘Das Bildnis Marie Henneberg’, a beautiful oil painting depicting the important society figure and wife of Hugo Henneberg, a Viennese artist and photographer. The sketch shows how Klimt experimented with the sitter’s pose and attire, before he finally settled on the languid seated position and exquisite blue dress in the painting. The artist is thought to have discarded a previous composition which placed the figure standing next to a chair and wearing a hat, in the same pose as this sketch.
The third sketch by Gustav Klimt, ‘Stehender Akt im Profil nach links’ (‘Standing nude in profile to the left’) is another nude, which demonstrates the artist’s passion for the female form. Estimated at £10,000 – 15,000, this sketch is from a series of studies relating to ‘Die Freudinnen’ an impressive oil painting depicting two women, one fully clothed and one nearly nude. The finished painting alludes to Klimt’s interest in homosexual relationships and it is likely that the painting celebrates lesbian love. The sketch offered for sale echoes the finished composition in the sinuous lines which trace the woman’s breast, waist and stomach. Klimt tried out different poses for the naked woman, and while in this sketch the model is presented as an anonymous sexual object, he pushes the boundaries in the final painting by presenting her front-on, where she can challenge the viewer with the truth of her relationship.
Jacqueline Nowikovsky, Bonhams representative in Vienna, Austria said, “Klimt is such an important Austrian painter and it is all the more exciting that Bonhams is offering these intimate and influential sketches just as the 150th anniversary of his birth is internationally celebrated in major retrospectives. They are not only studies for important oil-paintings, but are compositions in their own right. Given Austria’s preeminent art-historic relevance, we are very much looking forward to discover wonderful paintings and collectibles in Austria which may go on to gain global interest at Bonhams auctions in our salesrooms from London to New York and Hong Kong.”