The story behind the model in the painting is a significant one to understand to feel the emotion within the piece. Gustav Klimt greatly favoured one of his models, Herma, who had a character to her face the artist felt that his other model did not carry.
Upon waiting one day for her to arise to paint, the model did not show up. Klimt had sent out someone to looks for her, and once they had found her they revealed to Klimt that she was pregnant and unable to pose for his anymore.
Klimt insisted that the model still posed and convinced Herma to return to his studio, enabling Klimt to paint Hope I. The painting was later bought by Waerndofer, a finance banker who cherished the painting in a secret hiding spot, only showing the masterpiece to a select few.
The painting illustrates a nude pregnant woman, known as Klimt's favourite model Herma. The muse poses sideways, starring directly into the camera with her wide tired eyes. The woman's face stares directly into the viewer, with sharp cheekbones and a point nose on top of her small lips.
The woman's bright orange hair fills the canvas as the curls flow down her face. A small flower crown sits on top of her head, framing her face. The woman places her hands together on the top of her stomach, rather than traditionally below holding the child.
The woman's breasts are painted firmly within the piece, as her nipples are coloured a bright orange colour similarly to her hair. The woman within the painting has a small figure compared to Klimt's other models throughout his work. Perhaps the artist had painted the woman in a thinner form to illustrate her large stomach where the child sits.
The vertical piece remains beautifully positioned, yet the background gains the interests of the viewer. Near Herma's legs, two strong patterns fill the canvas, a dark blue coloured pattern, paired with a strong red one. The patterns illustrate an art nouveau texture to them, with elements of an Art Deco style. These patterns are an illustration of Klimt's belief that decorative art is meant to be as important as fine art.
Near the top of the painting, four dark faces peer towards the pure woman standing with her unborn child. A skeleton is illustrated among her, as a symbol of death, paired with two horrific faces illustrating the supernatural. Finally to the right, the dark presence of a man's face is portrayed, all starring at the innocence of the woman. The dark like figures in the background personify the symbolism of death.
The philosophical themes illustrates within the piece are life and death, a concept Klimt had an array of first hand experience on and illustrated within his work. The skull in the background is meant to symbolize death, while the three other faces symbolize disease, old age, and madness.