Gustav Klimt was born July 14, 1862 in Baumgarten, near Vienna. Gustav had three brothers and four sisters. His father was a engraver of gold. Gustav grew up in very poor circumstances as his father did not earn much.

Gustav was awarded a scholarship to the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts in 1876. It was here that Klimt received training as an architectural painter until 1883. Gustav and his brothers, along with friend Franz Matsch formed the "Company of Artists". They soon received a number of commissions. Klimt painted interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings.

Klimt was awarded the Golden order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria, in 1888. Gustav became an honorary member of the University of Vienna and the University of Munich. By the early 1890`s Klimt moved towards a new personal style.

During 1897, Klimt became one of the founding members of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession). The group had no manifesto and did not set out to encourage any particular style.

During 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall in the University of Vienna. Due to the public outcry over the paintings, they were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. In 1945, all three paintings were destroyed by retreating SS forces.

In 1902, Klimt finished the Beethoven Frieze for the 14th Vienna Secessionist exhibition. Trips to Venice and Ravenna, both famous for their beautiful mosaics, most likely inspired his gold technique and his Byzantine imagery. In 1911 his painting Death and Life received first prize in the world exhibitions in Rome.

Klimt passed away on February 6, 1918. Gustav Klimt was buried at the Hietzing Cemetery in Vienna. Numerous paintings were left unfinished.

Adele Bloch Bauer II
Adele Bloch-Bauer II is an oil and gold on canvas painted by Gustav Klimt in 1912. Adele was the wife of wealthy industrialist, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. Ferdinand was a strong supporter of the arts and provided support to Gustav Klimt. Klimt did two portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Both portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer became part of a long court battle in the United States and Austria. Eventually it was agreed that five Gustav Klimt paintings be returned to Maria Altmann, the niece of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, in January 2006. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II sold at auction in 2006 for $88 million.

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Beethoven Frieze
Beethoven Frieze was painted by Gustav Klimt during 1902 for the 14th Vienna Secessionist exhibition. The exhibition was a celebration of the composer, Beethoven. The painting was only suppose to be for the exhibition, so Klimt painted the Beethoven Frieze directly on the walls using only light materials. After the exhibition the painting was preserved, although it would be 1986 before it would go on display again.

Portrait of Margaret Stonborough Wittgenstein
The portrait of Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein was painted by Gustav Klimt during 1905. Margarethe was of the prominent and wealthy Viennese Wittgenstein family. She married a wealthy American, Jerome Stonborough. The painting was done for her wedding. The painting was sold by her son Thomas in 1960. The portrait is housed in the Neue Pinakothek gallery in Munich.

The Kiss
Gustav Klimt started work on the painting The Kiss in 1907 and he completed it in 1908. The Kiss has since been regarded as his most famous work. The Kiss is an oil and gold leaf on canvas with dimensions, 180 cm 180 cm (70.9 in 70.9 in). Klimt completed the painting at the peak of his Golden Period. The Kiss depicts a couple sharing a kiss against a bronze background. The couple are encased in shades of gold with various symbols. In 2003, Gustav Klimt and "The Kiss" were selected as the main motif for a collectors' coin.

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