The Bloch-Bauer family were an important contact for Klimt, financing several artworks during his career and allowing him to work without stresses from other areas of his life.
This portrait was the second of Adele, wife of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer and was created in 1912. The rich patron encouraged these relatively controversial artists and was delighted to have several portraits produced of his wife.
Indeed, the first title in this series is amongst Klimt's most famous paintings.
Both of these titles have attracted huge purchase prices at auction and have also been involved in a legal tug-of-war due to post-WW2 claims of ownership. The two Adele Bloch-Bauer portraits perfectly capture the style of Klimt, with a personal touch and extravagant finish marking much of his best work.
Gustav Klimt's Adele Bloch-Bauer II portrait is arguably one of his more famous paintings. His portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer has even been used to make a a Barbie doll.
This is further evidence of the mass appeal that his artwork has. Little children everywhere can enjoy his art in a form that is more accessible to them.
Like the Adele Bloch-Bauer II Painting, many other pieces from Klimt have been produced in a format that makes it easy for people to interact with them on a daily basis.
People who first encounter Klint's Adele Bloch-Bauer portrait in the form of a Barbie doll may later go on to university, where they might see a copy of his painting, "The Kiss" on one of its walls.
Adele Bloch-Bauer II is not the only portrait that Klimt is famous for. He is also known for the "Portrait of Serena Lederer", "Portrait of Joseph Pembauer" and "Portrait of Frau Heymann", to name a few.
While his portraits focus on individuals, they still have mass appeal, just like his other work. This may be due in part to the avant-garde style that he developed as his artistic career progressed.
His experimental methods helped to fuel the Secession in art. He and his brother were unorthodox in their methods. Klimt included elements of Japanese art in his work, as well as symbols which gave his paintings and landscapes a slightly magical or dreamlike quality. Many of his paintings may strongly exhibit one of his influences, such as Japanese vertical layouts.
Others seem to seamlessly blend several artistic elements to produce a winning fusion of techniques from both Eastern and Western artists.
People who examine Adele Bloch-Bauer II will see vertical divisions in the painting which are often a part of Japanese paintings. Strong blocks of colour are used to separate the composition into at least three separate spaces. The red block at the top contrasts sharply with the final block of colour, which is rendered in purple.
The initial block contains several smaller figures. These are definitely reminiscent of the arrangement of smaller figures in many ukiyo-e pieces.
There is a strong visual resemblance in terms of the arrangement of space and background elements, to a piece such as "Beauties Of The Yoshiwara- Shigeoka from Okamotoya House On Kyo Street". The woman in "Beauties Of The Yoshiwara" has numerous small flowers on her kimono.
Flowers also surround the lower body of the subject in Adele Bloch-Bauer II, flowing from her waist to her feet. Solid lines are used to emphasise her clothing and posture.
Klimt enhances the subject's physical beauty with elements from the natural world, positioning them just as a Japanese artist of the time would. The flowers help to create a dramatic impression.
While people looking at the painting will see that Adele is a beautiful woman, she is also portrayed with an element of restraint. There is seriousness in the painting, evident in the lines which are used to portray her erect form.
However, her entire posture and the position of her head give her an air of reserve. This may be reflective of her position in society.
Adele Bloch-Bauer II was the spouse of a wealthy industrialist. Her husband was known as a patron of the arts and supported Klimt's work. This painting is unique among Klimt's portraits because she is the only subject he chose to paint twice. This painting was one of many which were seized by the Nazis during the war.
The family had a difficult time recovering it from the Austrian museum where it was kept and only succeeded in doing so after a lengthy court battle.