Adele, a twenty-five-year-old socialite and patroness in 1907, was probably one of the priapic Klimt’s many lovers, though perhaps not for long: the gold- and silver-leafed hieratic portrait is piercingly erotic; its brushy, more Expressionist 1912 sequel is not.
The Neue Galerie’s new Klimt.
Issue of 2006-07-24
“Adele Bloch-Bauer I” (1907), by Gustav Klimt, is a showboat painting that, last month, fetched a showboat price: a hundred and thirty-five million dollars, the most on record for a work of art. The cosmetics magnate and collector Ronald S. Lauder bought it for the Neue Galerie, the spruce little museum of Austrian and German modern art at Fifth Avenue and Eighty-sixth Street which he co-founded in 2001 with the late dealer Serge Sabarsky. “Adele” is now on display there, along with four other Klimts, among them “Adele Bloch-Bauer II” (1912), which are owned by “Adele” ’s seller, the estate of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. An Austrian Jewish sugar industrialist and Adele’s husband, he fled the country after the Anschluss, in 1938; his belongings were seized by the Nazis. (Adele had died in 1925, of meningitis; Ferdinand died in 1945.)