Masterpiece Stories

Painting of the Week: Gustav Klimt, Two Girls With An Oleander

Zuzanna Stańska 30 October 2016 min Read

Gustav Klimt, Two Girls with an Oleander, 1892, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT
Gustav Klimt, Two Girls with an Oleander, 1892, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

Who doesn’t like Secession or Gustav Klimt?

This week we present an early and definitely less known painting by Gustav Klimt. This early work is one of Klimt’s rare paintings in which the figures are in a real and recognizable natural outdoor setting, rather than one transfigured into a precious ornamental arabesque as in his mature works. Though not yet thirty years old, Klimt demonstrated his total mastery of painting in Two Girls with Oleander. During these years, his interest focused on English art from the Victorian era and pre-Raphaelite painting. This was the time at which Klimt went beyond the narrow confines of painting as a historical reconstruction or photographic realism, and embarked on the path of stylistic decoration that would, within a few short years, lead him to the full poetry of symbolism.

Three elements are most noticeable in this painting: warm pink tones, delicacy of images and symbols, and balance. The gold beading on the girl’s veil stands out as though three-dimensional and glistening. The texture of stone, cloth, flowers, and skin appears incredibly real. These vividly rendered details are, however, set against an abstract background, heralding the sumptuous surfaces and abstract compositions that characterize Klimt’s mature style.

Find out more

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