At the turn of the 20th century, Austrian society was in a state of turbulent change. A culture of prudishness and moral rectitude was collapsing and a new order was being born. The art world saw a clash between the bland, rigid establishment style and the emerging power, eroticism, and symbolism of works by the Vienna Secession—a group, cofounded by Gustav Klimt, that broke with the rulebound Vienna Academy and organized its own exhibitions. Thus in 1899 one of Klimt’s paintings was called “the most beautiful picture ever painted by an Austrian,” while a year later Klimt was excoriated for his new style. The paintings we now see as graceful, quietly sensual, and profoundly appreciative of their subjects were positively frightening to the Austrian sensibility in the early 20th century.
Here are five each of four of Klimt’s most beautiful portraits. The notecards are 5 x 7 inches and envelopes are included.
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