Happy Sunday! For today’s Sojourn, I’m handing over to Emma Rose Miller, who is taking us to Austria, and showing us some beautiful artwork. Over to you, Emma.
The relationship between artist Gustav Klimt and Viennese fashion designer Emilie Flöge is a source of constant conjecture: were they lovers or just good friends? It’s a tantalising question to which nobody seems to know the answer.
Emilie’s sister Helene was married to Gustav Klimt’s brother, Ernst Klimt. After his brother’s death in 1892, Gustav was made Helene’s guardian and spent a lot of time at the family home and holidaying with them at Lake Attersee. Emilie was just eighteen at the time. Many experts agree that his painting The Kiss shows them as lovers.
The pair often spent the summer together in a small island chateau in Litzlberg on Lake Attersee. Near the chateau, was a boat shed. From its jetty, Klimt created his 1900 masterpiece Attersee. He probably used a viewer to seek out this specific segment of the lake. The impressionistic surface of the water here was achieved by setting different coloured strokes next to each other, giving a translucent quality and very lively impression of the lake. Of all Klimt’s paintings, this is possibly the most abstract.
Attersee (also known as the Kammersee or Lake Attersee) is the largest lake of the Salzkammergut area of Austria, extending roughly 20 km from north to south and 4 km from east to west. It is fed by Seeache, which flows out of another lake, the Mondsee. Southeast of Attersee are the so called Mountains of Hell, The Höllengebirge, with a height of up to 1,800 metres. To the southwest is the Schafberg the Sheep Mountain, standing at 1,782 metres).
Due to its steady winds and clean water quality, Attersee is famous for attracting sailors, swimmers and fishermen alike. During the season numerous sailing competitions are held there. One of the most cherished winds on Attersee is the so-called Rosenwind or breeze of roses, an easterly wind that crosses a castle’s rose garden and fills the air with the sweet scent of rose petals. The best time to visit Attersee is during spring, summer and autumn. Because of the lake’s size, it rarely freezes, even in very low temperatures. The last time the lake was entirely covered with ice was in the late 1940s, when people were seen skating and riding motorcycles across its thickly frozen surface of the lake. For fishermen, the lake is richly stocked with pike, rainbow trout, eel, carp, perch and whitefish.
It is now known that the surrounding areas were occupied since prehistoric times. In August 1870, remains of pile dwellings were found at Seewalchen near the northern end of the lake. In the middle of the 19th Century, paddle steamers were introduced onto Attersee to ferry mail and goods between the many villages located around its shores. Today it is an important recreation site for people from the urban areas of Vienna and Linz.
Lake Attersee was clearly a huge source of inspiration for Gustav Klimt, who painted a series of sublime landscapes from the boatshed beside the lake.
Schloss Kammer on Lake Attersee I (Watercastle), (1908)
First shown at the Internationale Kunstschau in Vienna together with several other landscapes, this is the earliest of four later variations on this theme. Klimt takes great interest in the architectural details of the thirteenth century castle, which seems to be growing out of the ground like a tree. In marked contrast to his 1900 painting, the surface of the lake here appears completely still.
Schloss Kammer on Lake Attersee II, (1909)
Painted only one year after Schloss Kammer on Lake Attersee, here Klimt changes the visual focus. Both the water and the meadow in front of the castle are depicted. There is also a change concerning the distance of the buildings to each other: they seem to be standing much closer together. The analogous green and blue tones give a quiet serenity.
Schloss Kammer on Lake Attersee III, (1910)
In the third variation on Schloss Kammer, Klimt again picks out the surface of the lake in shades of hyacinth, sapphire and ochre. The reflection of the castle and the trees on the water suggest that he sat on a boat with his easel. However, if we consider fact that the slightest blast of wind could have carried it away, we again come to the conclusion that he used a viewer, binoculars and or telescope to concentrate on this area.
Schloss Kammer on Lake Attersee IV, (1910)
Klimt’s fourth painting is perhaps the least subtle. The complimentary shades of red and green in the garden, and the orange of the castle against the blue water are visually striking and reminiscent of Monet or Van Gogh.
Gustav Klimt is of course best known as a painter of women, particularly those in his Golden Phase, such as The Kiss and his Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. However his Attersee series, together with other sublime paintings such as Fir Forest, (1901) and Malcesine, (1913) mark him out also as a gifted landscape painter.
His 1915 painting Litzlberg on the Attersee, was stolen by the Nazis and only recently returned to it’ owners grandson, Georges Jorisch, aged 83. In 2011, it sold for $23 million at auction. Not bad for a painting that was accomplished from a tiny boatshed!
Emma Rose Millar is author of the award winning novel FIVE GUNS BLAZING, based on the life of treacherous pirate Anne Bonny. Her novella THE WOMEN FRIENDS: SELINA, inspired by Gustav Klimt’s sensuous masterpiece of the same name, will be released on December 1st. For further information, visit Emma’s author page on Amazon.