Adele Bloch-Bauer II at the Belvedere in Vienna

by Alain Chivilò


The portrait “Adele Bloch-Bauer II” (1912-13), private collection, returned to Vienna to undergo scientific analysis and restoration in the Belvedere laboratories. From 9 November 2023 until 11 February 2024 it is possible to see and admire Gustav Klimt’s painting in its original form with new technical and scientific data-information.

The work “Adele Bloch-Bauer II” is the fourth by Klimt not present in the Belvedere collection to be examined and analyzed. After “Water Serpents II” during last spring, “Life is a struggle (The Golden Knight)” and “Eugenia Primavesi” were also evaluated by the Belvedere’s restoration department.

On a technical level, Stefanie Jahn, responsible for the restoration of the Belvedere, highlighted how “By gently and meticulously cleaning the surface of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, the gray film was removed and the clear pink, green, and blue tones were revived. Using the latest examination methods, it was possible to look beneath the surface of the painting and gain insights into the creative process”.

In the investigation carried out: X-ray images and infrared reflectography recordings now reveal a different initial composition. In that version, Adele stands on an oval carpet and is positioned closer to the viewer. Her dress is much more voluminous. Beneath the jeweled necklace, her neck is exposed, with her plumed hat extending opulently to the edge of the painting.

Belvedere and Bloch-Bauer are linked: Adele and Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer lent their paintings to the museum in 1919. Close to the hundredth anniversary of that date, in one of the most sensational restitutions of works of art, in January 2006 the two portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer (I and II) and three other paintings by Gustav Klimt returned to Maria Altmann, grandchild of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. In November 2006, Christie’s sold the painting “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II” at auction for approximately 88 million dollars (the fourth highest-priced work of art at auction at the time) which went to the businesswoman, television and author host, actress, philanthropist and writer Oprah Winfrey.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, oil on canvas, 1912-13, cm 190×120 (75 in x 47 in).


©AC, NDSL, AM, Alain Chivilo

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