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Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)

Sitzender Halbakt, die Arme auf das linke Knie gelegt, study for 'Die Jungfrau'

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) Sitzender Halbakt, die Arme auf das linke Knie gelegt, study for 'Die Jungfrau' pencil on paper 22 3/8 x 14 5/8 in. (56.7 x 37 cm.) Executed circa 1913
Georg Klimt (the artist's brother), Vienna.
Private collection, Vienna, by whom acquired from the above in 1927, and thence by descent; sale, Christie's, London, 27 June 2002, lot 327.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
A. Strobl, Gustav Klimt: Die Zeichnungen, 1878-1918, vol. IV, Nachtrag, Salzburg, 1989, no. 3657, p. 178 (illustrated, p. 179)

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Lot Essay

Alice Strobl suggests this work was executed as a study for the seated nude in the upper right section of the painting Die Jungfrau, 1913, now in the collection of the National Gallery, Prague (Novotny-Dobai, no. 184). In it Klimt depicted a total of seven women, intertwined into one another with patterned fabrics and flowers. The painting explores the relationship between beauty and transience, youth and death, and is above all celebration of the female form that Klimt was so intrigued by throughout his lifetime.

Berta Zuckerkandl, the artist's contemporary and an Austrian writer and critic, remarked: 'Klimt paints the woman of his time. Down to the most secret fibres of her being, he has followed her frame, the outlines of her shape, the modelling of her flesh and the machinery of her movements and has made them a permanent part of his memory. [...] Whether they are cruel and lustful or cheerful and sensual, his women are always full of mysterious charm' (B. Zuckerkandl, Zeitkunst: Wien 1901-1907, Vienna, 1908, reproduced in exh. cat., Gustav Klimt: Zeichnungen, Hanover, 1984, p. 149).

With lines strong and delicate at once, the present drawing possess an aura of mystery. While the sitter turns her gaze away from the viewer, resting her head on her forearms in a dreamlike pose, her exposed legs and pulled-up dress bear an erotic charge. The seeming innocence of her body appears to disguise the complexity and depth of life, a theme which Klimt delved into in the final painting of Die Jungfrau, alluding to the cyclical nature of human existence and its relationship to love and sexuality.

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