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Gustav Klimt’s Last Portrait Painted, “Lady With A Fan,” Achieves Record-Breaking Sale of £85.3 Million at London Auction

A Visionary Artist Redefining Beauty and Sensuality

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In a remarkable auction event held at Sotheby’s in London, the last portrait painted by the renowned artist Gustav Klimt before his untimely death in 1918 has fetched an astonishing price of £85.3 million ($108.4 million). This historic sale has set a new record for the highest price ever achieved for an artwork sold at auction in Europe.

The masterpiece, titled “Lady With A Fan” or “Dame Mit Facher,” captivated art enthusiasts and collectors alike, leading to a 10-minute bidding war that culminated in a final hammer price of £74 million ($94.35 million). The overall sale price, including the buyer’s premium, surpassed the initial estimate of £65 million ($80 million), highlighting the immense demand and appreciation for Klimt’s work.

“Lady With A Fan” portrays an unidentified woman standing against a backdrop adorned with dragons and lotus blossoms. The painting is a testament to Klimt’s artistic genius, showcasing his signature style and his ability to evoke a sense of intrigue and allure through his brushstrokes. The rich expressive technique employed in this artwork, influenced by Chinese motifs and Japanese woodblock patterns, adds to its visual appeal and timeless beauty.

The previous record for the highest auction sale in Europe was held by Alberto Giacometti’s bronze statue, “Walking Man I,” which fetched £82 million ($104.3 million) in 2010. With the sale of “Lady With A Fan,” Gustav Klimt has now claimed this prestigious title, solidifying his position as one of the most celebrated artists in history.

Helena Newman, the auctioneer and chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, expressed her admiration for Klimt’s artistic prowess and the overwhelming response to the painting. She described “Lady With A Fan” as a work that captured the imagination of everyone who saw it, and she was honored to witness such enthusiasm and fierce bidding in London. Bringing down the hammer on this exceptional artwork marked a moment of great significance in auction history.

The buyer of this remarkable piece, hailing from Hong Kong, secured the artwork after a spirited competition among four passionate art lovers. The fact that “Lady With A Fan” has found its home in the hands of an avid collector reflects the global appeal and universal admiration for Klimt’s masterpieces.

Gustav Klimt, an Austrian artist recognized for his contribution to the Art Nouveau movement, left an indelible mark on the art world with his unique style and visionary approach. He is best known for his iconic painting, “The Kiss,” which depicts two lovers entwined in an embrace. The recent sale of “Lady With A Fan” serves as a reminder of Klimt’s artistic legacy and his ability to captivate viewers with his exceptional talent.

Throughout his career, Klimt’s artistic journey witnessed various phases, but it was during his Golden Phase, from the late 1890s to 1909, that he reached the pinnacle of his creativity. Influenced by Byzantine art during a visit to Ravenna, Italy, Klimt began incorporating gold leaf and intricate ornamentation in his works. Masterpieces like “The Kiss,” “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” and “Judith and the Head of Holofernes” emerged during this period, mesmerizing audiences with their opulence and symbolism.

Beyond his own artistic achievements, Gustav Klimt’s influence extended to future generations of artists. He mentored notable figures such as Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka,

 and his innovative murals advocating for the integration of art and architecture inspired movements like the Bauhaus and the Russian Constructivists.

Despite his fame and recognition, Klimt remained a private individual, preferring not to discuss his personal life or work extensively. He saw himself simply as a painter committed to his craft, devoting countless hours each day to his art. Born in 1862 in Vienna, Klimt discovered his passion for painting at a young age and honed his skills at the prestigious Viennese School of Arts and Crafts. His talent and dedication, combined with his exploration of human forms and his fascination with the female figure, propelled him to the forefront of the Viennese avant-garde movement.

Gustav Klimt’s art, while revered for its beauty and allure, was not without controversy. He faced criticism for his erotic portrayals of women, which some deemed misogynistic. His University of Vienna ceiling paintings in the early 1900s, featuring sensual female nudes, sparked public outrage and accusations of obscenity. Consequently, Klimt chose to forgo future public commissions, continuing his artistic pursuits outside the confines of traditional expectations.

The recent sale of Klimt’s final portrait, “Lady With A Fan,” stands as a testament to the enduring appeal and value of his artwork. It celebrates the legacy of a visionary artist who challenged conventions and left an indelible mark on the art world. As this masterpiece finds its place in art history, Gustav Klimt’s contributions to the decorative arts and his exploration of human sensuality will continue to inspire and captivate audiences for generations to come.

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