Lot 13
  • 13

Gustav Klimt

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 GBP
4,321,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Gustav Klimt
  • Mädchen im Grünen

    (Girl in the Foliage)

  • signed Gustav Klimt (lower left)
  • oil on canvas


Georg Lasus & Hermine Lasus, Vienna

Hermine Lasus, Vienna (by descent from the above in 1933)

Marko Danilowatz, Vienna (grandson of the above; by descent from the above in 1954)

Bibiana Preisinger, Vienna (daughter of the above; by descent from the above in 1971 and until circa 1972)

Serge Sabarsky, New York (acquired before 1993)


Tokyo, Isetan Museum; Aichi, Prefectural Museum of Art; Nara, Prefectural Museum of Art; Yamanashi, Prefectural Museum of Art & Kamakura, Museum of Modern Art, Egon Schiele und Wien zur Jahrhundertwende, 1986, no. 54, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Gustav Klimt, 1987, no. 10, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Portrait de jeune fille)

Roslyn Harbor, Nassau County Museum of Art, Gustav Klimt, 1989

Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, Gustav Klimt, 1991-92, no. 10, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Krakow, Palacu Sztuki, Gustav Klimt, 1992

Zurich, Kunsthaus, Gustav Klimt, 1992, no. G14, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

New York, Neue Galerie, Gustav Klimt 150th Anniversary Celebration, 2012

New York, Neue Galerie, Austrian Portraiture in the Early 20th Century, 2014-15

Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, 1995, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

New York, Neue Galerie (on loan 2015-16)

New York, Neue Galerie, Klimt and The Women of Vienna’s Golden Age: 1900-1918, 2016-17, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Emil Pirchan, Gustav Klimt. Ein Künstler aus Wien, Vienna & Leipzig, 1942, no. 36, illustrated (as dating from 1890)

Johannes Dobai, Das Frühwerk Gustav Klimts, Vienna, 1958, pp. 151-152

Fritz Novotny & Johannes Dobai, Gustav Klimt, Salzburg, 1967, no. 75, illustrated p. 300

Christian M. Nebehay (ed.), Gustav Klimt: Dokumentation, Vienna, 1969, detail illustrated pl. II

Johannes Dobai & Sergio Coradeschi, L’opera completa di Klimt, Milan, 1978, no. 60, illustrated p. 95

Gottfried Fliedl, Gustav Klimt: The World in Female Form, Cologne, 1989, illustrated p. 52 

Gerbert Frodl, Klimt, London, 1992, no. 18, illustrated p. 152 (titled Portrait of a Girl)

Hans Haider (ed.), Ich, Serge Sabarsky, Vienna, 1997, illustrated in colour p. 111

Sophie Lillie, Was einmal war. Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens, Vienna, 2003, mentioned p. 655

Alfred Weidinger (ed.), Gustav Klimt, Munich, Berlin, London & New York, 2007, no. 97, illustrated in colour p. 254

Tobias G. Natter (ed.), Gustav Klimt, Cologne, 2012, no. 85, illustrated in colour p. 550

Catalogue Note

Gustav Klimt’s exquisite representations of women have led him to become the most celebrated painter of the female portrait of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mädchen im Grünen, painted in 1896, is a beautiful and captivating work from a crucial period in the artist’s career. Wearing a pure white blouse and a fashionable hat, the sitter is depicted against a background of deep green foliage, an uncommon setting in Klimt’s portraiture. Her face and hair are rendered in delicate feathery brushstrokes that stand in contrast to the quicker, more spontaneous brushwork used elsewhere in the composition; her eyes are at once dreamy and piercing. ‘Klimt shows us the subject of Girl in the Foliage, wearing a hat and a puff-sleeved blouse, in a close-up view. In contrast to the background, in which coarse brushstrokes give a flattened impression, Klimt executed the contours of the face with fineness and precision. This naturalistic mode makes the face, with its pale eyes, the centre of the composition’ (A. Weidinger (ed.), op. cit., p. 254).

Klimt’s portraiture was for the most part the product of commissions from private individuals, and helped to establish him in Vienna as the most successful artist of his day. Whilst the sitter of this portrait has not been identified by scholars, due to the absence of any reference to the model in contemporary notes, Tobias G. Natter has written: ‘No one has yet succeeded in identifying the sitter. […] According to information kindly provided by the Vienna-based expert Marian Bisanz-Prakken, the sitter may be Maria Ucicka (1880-1928) of Prague’ (T. G. Natter in Klimt and The Women of Vienna’s Golden Age 1900-1918 (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 114).

With its chromatic purity and clarity of expression, the present work stands out among Klimt’s small-scale portraits from this period, many of which are characterised by a sombre palette and a distant sitter turned away from the viewer. Quoting from another source, Doris H. Lehmann argues: ‘Each of Klimt’s female portraits is more than just a representation of his model. As Thomas Zaunschirm has written: Fundamentally, Klimt was less a portraitist than a painter who used female portraits for the purpose of his own allegories”’ (D. H. Lehmann in Facing the Modern. The Portrait in Vienna 1900 (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery, London, 2013, p. 99). While the purity of tonality and ethereal atmosphere reflect the symbolism of much of Klimt’s portraiture executed around the turn of the century, the technique of Mädchen im Grünen shows more similarities with the painting of the French Impressionists, particularly the stunning female figures by Manet (fig. 1), as well as the finesse of Whistler in whose art Klimt found an important source of inspiration.

The fashion-conscious artist – who would later find a ‘soul-mate’ in the designer Emilie Flöge – was passionate about depicting fabric and patterns in his portraits as well as in allegorical compositions. However, those who sat for his portraits were often reimagined entirely to the artist’s own taste and for allegorical reasons, as Angela Völker explains: ‘Gustav Klimt clearly had a preference for pale-coloured dresses. A number of the women he painted are wearing white or pastel shades. This does not necessarily comply with current fashion trends. The softly fluid fabrics, often transparent, of the classical style robes in his early allegories are echoed in the thoroughly different pink and white dresses in his portraits of Sonja Knips [fig. 2], Serena Lederer and Gertrud Loews [sic.]’ (A. Völker in Klimt und die Frauen (exhibition catalogue), Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, 2000-01, p. 45). Combining this fascination with fabric with a powerfully expressive portrait and a romantic background, Mädchen im Grünen is a captivating example of Klimt’s early portraiture.