Saturday, May 13, 2017

Adele Block Bauer and 'Woman in Gold'

I've just watched the film Woman In Gold on BBC - about the portrait of Adele Block-Bauer by Gustav Klimt - and had to keep restraining myself from reaching for my iPhone to check what the outcome was. The nuisance of a memory which remembers some facts but not all of them!

Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer (the so-called "Woman in Gold") 1907
by Gustav Klimt
oil, silver and gold on canvas, 140 × 140 cm (55.1 × 55.1 in)
Current Location: Neue Galerie New York

So for those who were equally intrigued here's what I found.

You can see the film, made in 2015, on BBC2 channel on iPlayer (for the next 29 days)


  • painted in 1907 - and commissioned by Ferdinand Block-Bauer 
  • 1925 - Adele Bloch-Bauer died suddenly of meningitis, in Vienna on January 24
  • 1928 - lent for an exhibition at the Vienna Secession in 1928 to mark the tenth anniversary of Klimt's death
  • 1934 - displayed in London as part of the Austria in London exhibition
  • 1937 - lent for display at the Paris Exposition
  • between 1938 and 1941: nationalised by the German/Austrian State
  • December 1941 - Führer transferred the paintings Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I and Apfelbaum I to the Galerie Belvedere (now Österreichische Galerie Belvedere)
  • 1945 - Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer (Adele's husband) died on 13 November 
  • 2006: restituted to Maria Altmann, the niece of the Bloch-Bauers by Österreichische Galerie Belvedere
  • purchased by Ronald Lauder ($135 million) from Maria Altmann
  • transferred to Neue Galerie in New York City from Ronald Lauder

Related Websites

About the portrait

About the key persona

On January 24, 1925 Bloch-Bauer died suddenly of meningitis, in Vienna. After her death, the “Klimt Hall” was turned into a “memorial room” for her. In her will she asked her husband to donate Klimt’s paintings to the Austrian Gallery after his death. In 1938, following the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany, the paintings were aryanized. Ferdinand fled to Czechoslovakia and later continued to Zurich, where he died shortly after the end of the war. He is buried beside his wife in Vienna. His last request to recover the Klimt paintings and other artworks from their exquisite collection was not fulfilled in his lifetime. Maria Altmann, Adele’s California-based niece and the family heir, sued the Republic of Austria, demanding that the Klimt paintings be returned to her.
  • Maria Altmann nee Bloch (1916-2011) | Wikipedia - niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer who fled to the USA in 1938 following the Anschluss; details the background to the legal case. She died on died on February 7, 2011.
  • E. Randol "Randy" Schoenberg - the lawyer who helped Maria Altman reclaim the Klimts. Grandson of  Arnold Schoenberg the composer. His grandmother was Maria Altman's best friend. Besides continuing to work as a lawyer, he also teaches a course on  teaches a course on Art and Cultural Property Law. President of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust from 2005 to 2015. This is his Facebook Page and his Twitter account - looks like he's an interesting lawyer!
  • Hubertus Czernin (1956-2006)| Wikipedia - the man who proved that the claim of the Belvedere Gallery in Vienna was false - which in turn led to the passage of Austria's Art Restitution Law. To my mind he's not given adequate credit in the film for the role he played. He died on 10 June 2006
  • Ronald Lauder | Wikipedia - heir to the Estée Lauder Companies, President of the World Jewish Congress and founder of the Neue Galerie New York

About the film

Articles about the Portrait and the Legal Case and subsequent Auction


Carmen Vidal said...

Interesting story about Adele Block Bauer. I will see if my local library has the movie available. Happy Mother's Day!

Gatepost productions said...

I watched the film last night - what a coincidence. I really enjoyed it.

Meera Rao said...

I was fortunate to see the painting in person in NYC -just fabulous :)

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