Gustav Klimt Baby Cradle 1917–18

Gustav Klimt
Baby (Cradle) 1917–18
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gift of Otto and Franciska Kallir with the help of the Carol and Edwin Gaines Fullinwider Fund

Otto and Eugenia Primavesi

Otto and Eugenia Primavesi were the most significant patrons of Klimt's last years. They also figured prominently in the career of Josef Hoffmann, commissioning him in 1913 to design their country house in Winkelsdorf, northern Moravia (now Kouty, near Šumperk, Czech Republic), and adapt their existing house in Olmütz (now Olomouc, Czech Republic). From 1914, there were key financial backers of the Wiener Werkstätte, Otto serving from 1915 as its Commercial Director, acquiring many key pieces.

Owner and Executive Director of the Primavesi Bank, based in Olmütz, Otto was born in 1868 into a Catholic family that had long occupied a leading position in the city and the region. Eugenia, born into the Catholic family of a railway official near Vienna in 1874, had trained as an actress (taking the stage name 'Mäda') and was to long maintain a theatrical flair in the running of her various households, in all of which there prevailed a fervent 'cult of the child' – the Primavesis were to have four – and an equally important 'cult of the mother'. Klimt's commissioned portrait of Eugenia (1913) is among the first to signal Klimt's late portrait style, be it in its exuberant colouring, the suppression of an illusion of depth or the presence of ornamental detail.

The Primavesis made their final acquisition of a Klimt work, The Baby (The Cradle) 1917–18, in 1920 after the artist's death, and as the idyll they had nurtured in Winkelsdorf and Olmütz was beginning, along with the rest of 'old Austria', to unravel.

Works on display

Gustav KlimtBaby (Cradle)1917–18 Koloman MoserBottle Support owned by the Primavesi Family1904 Koloman MoserBread and Fruit Basket owned by the Primavesi Family1904 Koloman MoserFeather Wiper owned by the Primavesi Family1903 Koloman MoserInk Pot1903 Model of the Skywa-Primavesi Residence 1913–15/1983 Koloman MoserPaper Weight1903 Gustav KlimtPortrait of a Girl owned by the Primavesi Family1898 Gustav KlimtPortrait of Eugenia Primavesi1913–14Scarf1914–16Stone Head1912–13 Gustav KlimtStudy for Portrait of Eugenia Primavesi1912–13 Gustav KlimtStudy for Portrait of Eugenia Primavesi1912–13