Portraiture is closely identified with the distinctive flourishing of modern art in the Austrian capital during its famed fin-de-siècle: artists worked to the demands of patrons, and in Vienna modern artists were compelled to focus on the image of the individual.
Iconic portraits from this time – by Gustav Klimt , Egon Schiele, Richard Gerstl, Oskar Kokoschka and Arnold Schönberg are displayed alongside works by important yet less widely known artists such as Broncia Koller and Isidor Kaufmann.
In contrast to their contemporaries working in Paris, Berlin and Munich, and in response to the demands of their local market, Viennese artists such as Klimt remained focused on the image of the individual. Portraits therefore dominate their production, enabling this exhibition to reconstruct the shifting identities of artists, patrons, families, friends, intellectual allies and society celebrities of this time and place.
Highlight paintings include:
• The Family (Self Portrait) by Schiele (1918, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna)
• Nude Self Portrait by Gerstl (1908, Leopold Museum, Vienna)
• Portrait of a Lady in Black by Gustav Klimt (about 1894, Private collection)
• Portraits of Christoph and Isabella Reisser by Anton Romako (1884-5, Leopold Museum, Vienna)
Also on show is Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Hermine Gallia (1904, The National Gallery, London) the haunting image of a Jewish patron of art and design whose family would be driven from Vienna by anti-Semitism in the 1930s.
The National Gallery Website