Lot 173
  • 173

GUSTAV KLIMT | Damenbrustbild von vorne (Portrait of a Lady)

150,000 - 250,000 GBP
495,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Gustav Klimt
  • Damenbrustbild von vorne (Portrait of a Lady)
  • inscribed Gustav Klimt possibly by another hand (towards upper right)
  • pencil and coloured crayon on paper


Daisy Hellmann (née Steiner), Vienna (acquired by 1938)
Thence by descent to the present owners


Vienna, Albertina, Gustav Klimt - Egon Schiele, Zum Gedächtnis ihres Todes vor 50 Jahren, Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, 1968, no. 120, illustrated in the catalogue


Alice Strobl, Gustav Klimt, Die Zeichnungen 1912-1918, Salzburg, 1984, vol. III, no. 2621, illustrated p. 127

Catalogue Note

This exquisite drawing by Gustav Klimt depicts an unnamed female sitter. With her strong eyes and voluptuous red lips, the lady is an archetypal Klimtian figure. Her demeanour evokes a quiet grace yet a subtle but powerful allure. Her head is naturally tilted and she gazes languidly out towards the viewer. A prodigious draughtsman, Klimt had a remarkable ability to convey an intensely sensual mood though the fluidity of line. Klimt’s drawings usually relate to his painted works and the artist was a favoured choice of society women for portraits. His highly animated, quickly sketched preparatory drawings convey an elegant modernity and sense of fashion. While portraiture was in decline following the advent of photography in most European capitals, it retained a lingering vogue in Vienna, with the new burgeoning middle class seeking to declare their newly gained status.

Klimt had a close, often romantic, relationship with his models, and consequentially captured qualities of tangibility and intimacy. Klimt's body of work demonstrates his devotion to women. Regine Schmidt wrote of the artist’s treatment of the female form and its centrality to his entire output as an artist: ‘Gustav Klimt’s work was and is such that one can lose oneself in it. His women, ladies and girls are mere forms of nature itself, flowers, as it were, that he drew and painted as they budded, blossomed and withered. […] His œuvre is a constant homage to woman. To Klimt they were erotic creatures’ (Regine Schmidt, ‘Of Sweet Young Things and Femmes Fatales: Gustave Klimt and Women around 1900. A Path to Freedom’, in Gerbert Frodl & Tobias G. Natter (ed.), Klimt’s Women, New Haven, 2000, pp. 27 & 30).

Klimt transformed drawing into a highly personal, experimental means of expression, which gave his work a new spontaneity and subjectivity. The line with which his subjects are described explores and caresses as though the drawing itself was an act of seduction. Klimt renewed the European tradition of figuration by placing the human body and human destiny at the centre of his concern. This beautiful and tender drawing reveals the inventive essence of this exceptional artist.