unsolicited book review -- the lady in gold

Gustav Klimt and The Lady In Gold

Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer

It took Klimt six years to paint The Lady In Gold. They were having an alleged affair, and he used this opportunity obviously to spend more time with her. And then the Nazis stole the painting.

What is fascinating is that we know a lot about Klimt's slutty behavior. He died of syphilis after all. There's documented information of his illegitimate children, his many mistresses and affairs, but there's nothing on his relationship with Adele -- the lady in gold. It's suspect that there's absolutely nothing. Back then everyone had journals and wrote everything down.


Anne-Marie O'Connor's The Lady in Gold is a semi-biographical book about Adele Bloch Bauer, Gustav Klimt, and the Nazis. It raises the issues surrounding modern art and history's biggest collective art theft.


In Austria in the 1920s, the ideas of the intelligentsia class were considered a bit ahead of their time. As history went on to show, what they believed turned out to be what we in modern society consider the norm.

A lot of people (myself included) are concerned about the current state of affairs. Our country's political and criminal issues are serious. After reading this book and doing a little anthropological soul-searching, I had some hope. History shows us that the liberal, open-minded members of society eventually set the standard for the future generations.

The modern intelligentsia class today is comprised of the same people as during Adele's times -- artists, musicians, liberals, writers, and other intellectuals. If the past shows us anything, it's that the beliefs of this group of people will become what the future considers the norm.

But I digress... Back to the Lady in Gold.

Alma Mahler, who later married the composer Mahler, was a friend of Adele's. She married Mahler for love, and later divorced him, an unheard of concept in those times -- a divorced woman. She later had an affair with Kokoschka, who even painted her, but they broke up as well. It has been discussed that she hoped to have an affair with Klimt.

These incidences were well documented, which just added to the mystery of the lady in gold and her relationship with Klimt. If they were in love, or if they hated each other, there should have been some evidence.

Perhaps they kept all of their relationship a secret for a reason.


The painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer was a sad story. As the war grew closer, many people escaped Austria, while others didn't take the threat of Hitler seriously. Adele was long gone, but her art collection fell victim to the Nazis.

I love reading and learning as much as I can about art. This historical book was very thorough and eye-opening. The amount of research Ms. O'Connor conducted was absolutely inspired. This book was truly one of the most complete retellings of art history, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who loves art.


I would have liked to read more about Klimt's relationship with Adele. Although not much information exists, even the opinions of art historians would surmise.

People often say this painting of Klimt's Judith is another portrait of the Lady in Gold. It is obviously her face. Even if she did not pose for it, Klimt was inspired by her. Why did he choose her to be his Judith? In my previous posts I've talked about Judith Beheading Holofernes as the ultimate depiction of female strength.

Adele died of unknown causes. It seemed like she was tired of her life. Yet Klimt depicted her with insurmountable strength. He knew her better than anyone. Or he knew a different version of her, a private her she didn't show to just anyone.

the lady in gold

After seeing this Egon Schiele painting, I once again thought it was Adele on the right. The two artists were colleagues, and it is not unreasonable to think Adele posed for Schiele.

the lady in gold

I would love to know the answers to the mysteries surrounding The Lady in Gold. But maybe the greatest thing about this whole story is that we don't know the whole story.

Hope you enjoyed reading I would love to hear your opinions ;)))