Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” is widely considered to be his pinnacle masterpiece from the Golden Period of his career. Completed in 1907, this portrait features African, Asian, Byzantine, and Egyptian influences combined with Klimt’s highly ornamental decoration style. The painting took four years to complete and required over 100 preparatory drawings before Klimt began painting.
Adele Bloch-Bauer I was an art patron and a central figure in Vienna’s art scene. The painting can also be seen as a secular icon that embodies Klimt’s symbolism style. After being stolen by Nazis in 1941 from her rightful owners, the painting went through a long legal battle until it was finally returned in 2006.
In addition to Adele Bloch-Bauer I, Klimt painted another portrait of her – known as Adele Bloch-Bauer II – and possibly depicted her as the Jewish heroine Judith in an allegory piece. Despite this array of artistic representations, it is Adele Bloch-Bauer I that remains one of the most famous portraits globally and continues to captivate audiences today with its fusion of Eastern-inspired ornamentation against a more Western-influenced portraiture background.