H elen Marie Stutzova (1905-1974), daughter of Eduard and Ružena Stutz, was brought up in Prague, at ‘Das Rosel Haus’ which was considered by the artistic community as a focal point for exchange of ideas. She spent her formative years in Prague, Lausanne and London, where culture, social skills and the English language were her main subjects of learning.
In 1926, having returned from London to Prague, she married Kurt Fanta, who was a young employee in one of his family’s sugar factories.
They were gifted the diamond ring upon their wedding day by Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a banker and sugar manufacturer, husband to Adele Bloch-Bauer and first cousin to Kurt’s mother Elly Fanta (née Koenigswerther). Adele was the subject of the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, also known as the iconic Woman in Gold, painted and immortalized by the Austrian Secessionist Gustav Klimt, completed in 1907.
In 1929 Helen and Kurt‘s daughter, Charlotte Reneé Fanta-Stutz, was born. A couple of years later however, Helen and Kurt drifted apart, and in 1937 they divorced. Helen then met and fell in love with Frederich Mayer, who would later become her second husband and stepfather to Charlotte.
As World War II approached, Helen and her daughter fled to England in 1939 and reunited with Frederich. They married the same year. Charlotte, now Charlotte Mayer, began her education and career as a sculptor in 1945. Charlotte found inspiration from the remarkable versatility of her grandmother Ružena, who was a sculptor, violinist and biologist. It is said Ružena was a trend setter breaking with traditional convention, wearing trousers and volunteering as a bricklayer for her own house. It was in Villa Stutz Charlotte’s creative ideas was nurtured and she made her first carvings using walnuts.
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, painted by Gustav Klimt and completed in 1907, was commissioned by Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. The portrait represents Klimt’s final works of the golden phase, and one of two depictions of Adele. The painting looted by the Nazi’s, was one out of five of Klimt’s paintings, taken from the Bloch-Bauer family.
The painting was inherited by Ferdinand’s niece, Maria Altmann, in 2006, following eight years of legal dispute against the Republic of Austria. The painting was shortly afterwards displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum and sold the same year to the business man and art collector Ronald Lauder, and now hangs in New York Neue Galerie.
The exquisite ring, whose story intertwines with that of one of the most iconic paintings in the history of art, will be offered in the Sotheby’s Fine Jewels sale on 11 December in London.