Modern and Contemporary Art

Friederike Maria Beer

Friederike Maria Beer
  • Gustav Klimt 1862 - 1918, Austria
  • Friederike Maria Beer
  • 1916
  • Oil on canvas
  • 168x130cm
  • Mizne-Blumental Collection

Friederike Maria Beer, the woman represented in this painting, was a young Viennese society lady with strong ties to the Viennese art world. She commissioned this portrait from Gustav Klimt, and modeled for it wearing a hand-painted silk dress she called "my Klimt dress" and a short fur coat. Klimt was especially taken with the colorful lining of the coat, and asked her to wear it inside out. Beer had purchased both items of clothing at the reputed Viennese design studio Wiener Werkstätte, where she was a regular and important client.

The painting's background contains motifs from a battle scene, which Klimt borrowed from a Korean vase in his possession. These recur in the artist's late works, and fill the surface of the canvas with the kind of horror vacui characteristic of Oriental art.

One of the prominent representatives of Jugendstil in Austria, Klimt painted compositions that blended Western and Oriental elements; he emphasized meandering lines and biomorphic forms that tend towards flatness, while almost blending figure and ground into a single decorative plane. At the same time, as in almost all his portraits, Klimt remained faithful to a fairly realistic depiction of the sitter's hands and face.


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