PRAGUE.- The National Gallery in Prague, Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art
, added to its permanent exhibition of 20th- and 21st-century International Art a painting by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (18621918), a key figure in the Vienna Secession. Klimt developed a distinctive style that captured the wholly original atmosphere of fin de siècle Vienna.
The female subject was central to the work of Klimt. He painted portraits of contemporary women with a mysterious, dreamy expression, but also with energy and a lust for life. The painting Lady with a Muff dating from 19161917 is one such portrait. The coquettish way in which she obscures part of her face with the fur evokes Klimts earlier 1909 work Woman with Hat and Feather Boa (Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna). However, the brightly coloured background of Lady with a Muff is different, emphasizing the colour and newly referencing inspiration found in Asian art. These Asian-influenced figures, reflecting Klimts interest as a collector of Japanese and Chinese art, may be found in other of his paintings such as The Polecat Fur (Der Iltispelz; private collection), which depicts another woman wrapped in a fur coat partly obscuring her face.
Last displayed in Vienna in 1926, Lady with a Muff (19161917) has long been thought lost. Nevertheless, the list of Klimts paintings by F. Novotný and J. Dobai (Vienna 1967) and later sources refer to it as in a private collection. The private collector purchased Lady with a Muff in the late 1920s or early 1930s, and the National Gallery in Prague may once again present the painting to the public courtesy of its current owner.
This loan is an important companion to two other well-known Klimt paintings in the National Gallery in Pragues permanent collection Water Castle (1908) and The Virgin (1914).