Gustav Klimt: The early years

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Gustav Klimt: The early years
Gustav Klimt was an Austrian painter, who was born July 14, 1862 in Baumgarten, near Vienna in, what was then, Austria-Hungary. He was the second of seven children - three boys and four girls. (See: Gustav Klimt's 150th birth anniversary marked by Google doodle)

His father, Ernst Klimt the Elder was a gold engraver. Ernst married Anna Klimt, whose unrealised ambition was to be a musical performer. Klimt's childhood was spent in poverty, though he went on to study architectural painting at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule) until 1883.

Gustav Klimt's early inspiration was Hans Makart, the foremost history painter of the time. Hans Makart went to have a major influence on the careers of Gustav Klimt and other Austrian artists of the time. Makart was a revered artist himself, and a very well known celebrity figure in the high culture circles of Vienna.

Meanwhile, in 1877, Gustav Klimt's brother Ernst joined him at the Vienna School of Arts, and the two brothers, and their friend Franz Matsch, began working together. They called themselves "Company of Artists", and became rather popular, receiving multiple commissions. Along with their teacher, they painted various murals in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Gustav Klimt began his solo professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings on the Ringstraße including a successful series of "Allegories and Emblems".

In 1888, at age 26, Gustav Klimt received the Golden order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria for his work at the Burgtheater in Vienna. He also became an honorary member of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna.

In 1892, tragedy stuck. Klimt's father and brother Ernst both died, and he had to assume financial responsibility for both the families. That wasn't the only impact on Gustav Klimt's life. The deaths affected his artistic vision as well, giving his work a more personal style.

While Gustav Klimt had multiple relationships during his life, he never married. Perhaps his "special one" was an Austrian designer, fashion designer and businesswoman by the name of Emilie Louise Flöge, though the exact nature of their relationship is debated till date.


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