Galerie St. Etienne, New YorkDorotheum, Wein, 4 December 2001, lot 64
Private Collection, Madrid
New York, Galerie St. Etienne, Gustav Klimt, March 1970, no.27
New York, Galerie St. Etienne, Gustav Klimt: Drawings and Selected Paintings, 20 September – 5 November 1983, no.42
Alice Strobl, Gustav Klimt: die Zeichnvngen 1912-1918, Vol III, Verlag Galerie Welz, Salzburg, 1984, no.2690, p.144, illus.
‘Femme Assise’ is a mature work that powerfully uses the simplicity and dynamism of clear lines. Klimt’s drawings of women are amongst his most iconic works. Known to push the boundaries with his intimate depictions, Klimt did not shy away from reality. Although stylised in its mode of presentation, the model in ‘Femme Assise’ is not idealised. Her serene posture dons the work with a quiet gravitas and elegance reminiscent of his Secessionist paintings.
Klimt’s style subtly changed in 1909 after, resigning from the Secession in 1905, and travelling through Europe with his friend and fellow Secession member Carl Moll. In Paris he saw the work of Matisse and the developments in Modernism. Describing this period as his ‘naturalism’ Klimt adopted a new style of painting that self-referenced its medium through striving for three dimensionality while making apparent its limitations. He adopted the same method in his graphic work. In ‘Femme Assise’ (1916) Klimt has meticulously drawn the edges of the woman’s silhouette with long singular precise lines which are then overlaid with a flurry of smaller marks to add detail to the hair line, nose, mouth, eyes and under the chin. The contrast between continuous and repeated lines gives the drawing its expressive quality and displays the glory of Klimt’s draftsmanship.
By 1916, the year he created ‘Femme Assise’, Klimt had garnered both critical and financial success. In 1911 his painting ‘Death and Life’ was awarded first price in the World Exhibition in Rome and in 1917 he was made honourary member of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Klimt’s drawings have not lost their importance. A major exhibition of his and his protégée Egon Schiele’s drawings was held at The Royal Academy of Arts, London last year.