Gustav Klimt and Landscape

Gustav Klimt Forest I 1901

Gustav Klimt
Forest I
 1901
Courtesy Kunsthaus Zug, Stiftung Sammlung Kamm

Gustav Klimt and Landscape

While Klimt’s first landscapes date from the early 1880s, it was not until the late 1890s that he turned consistently to landscape subjects, during summer vacations spent in the picturesque Salzkammergut, outside the city of Salzburg. Landscape painting enabled him to experiment, free from the pressure of commissioned work and the distractions of the metropolis. After the early 1900s, when Klimt eschewed large public commissions and became more dependent upon selling his work, a ready supply of new landscapes proved useful.

Klimt’s landscapes are now a highly admired aspect of his oeuvre. A particular feature of the works is their standard size and square format, a device Klimt used with their exhibition in mind. The uniformity of his landscapes in this one respect highlights their diversity in many others. Throughout, it is possible to point to corresponding shifts in Klimt’s approach to the portraits and allegories on which he worked in Vienna. Many unfinished landscapes were taken back to his Vienna studio for completion. It is thought, for instance, that Litzlberg on the Attersee 1915 was completed with the aid of postcards and photographs. 

Klimt’s landscapes express his wider concerns with biological growth and the cycle of life. Their dazzling decorative surfaces and abstracted motifs align him with emergent modernist tendencies. The trees depicted in Pine Forest I 1901 seem stylised, rendered in a strict vertical rhythm with reduced spatial depth, the quasi-pointillist brushstrokes recalling the treatment of costume in his portraits of Marie Henneberg and Hermine Gallia. The foliage in The Park 1909–10 is similarly flattened while his late Garden Landscape with Hilltop 1916 recalls the symbiosis of naturalism and ornament in the contemporary work of Egon Schiele (1890–1918).

Works on display

  • Gustav Klimt Apple Tree I c.1912
  • Gustav Klimt Beech in the Forest c.1903
  • Gustav Klimt Fir Forest I 1901
  • Gustav Klimt Litzlberg am Attersee 1915
  • Gustav Klimt Park Landscape with Mountain Tops 1916
  • Postcard sent by Gustav Klimt from Seewalchen am Attersee to Julius Zimpel and family, Vienna 1906
  • Gustav Klimt Sketch Book 1917
  • Gustav Klimt The Park 1909/10
  • View Finder
  • Postcard from Gustav Klimt sent from Litzlberg at the Attersee
  • Postcard from Gustav Klimt sent from Seewalchen at the Attersee
  • Postcard sent by Gustav Klimt showing Schloss Kammer in Kammer am Attersee to Julius Zimpel, Vienna 1910
  • Postcard with image of Litzlbergkeller sent by Gustav Klimt to Anna Klimt, Lower Austria 1902
  • Schloss Kammer on the Attersee, postcard sent by Gustav Klimt to Anna Klimt circa 1908
  • Gustav Klimt Sketchbook for Sonja Knips