Beech Grove I

Klimt, Gustav ((1862-1918)) | Painter


Even artists need a change of scene. Gustav Klimt, a leading figure in the art nouveau movement in Vienna in the 1890s and early 1900s, regularly spent his summers at the Attersee lake near Salzburg. He took his brushes and paints with him – but none of his famous portraits of women were painted there. Instead, he worked on his exceptionally attractive landscapes, including the picture on show here – a stretch of woodland which fills the entire pictorial surface. With the horizon set unusually high, we primarily just see a leaf-covered forest floor – painted in little dabs of colour set directly adjacent in soft, harmonious tones. All the details are depicted in minute detail: the shimmering layer of leaves – the patchy tree trunks – the reflecting sunlight as it breaks through the trees in the upper half of the painting. And quite in the spirit of art nouveau, these details merge to form a large decorative image covering the surface.

Have you noticed the format of the work? The painting is a perfect square, exactly 100 centimetres on all four sides. In a letter, Klimt explained why he chose this format:

“In the early morning, during the day and early evening, looked for motifs to paint in my landscapes with my 'viewfinder’ – a hole cut into a piece of cardboard.”

Since Klimt’s ‘viewfinder’ was a square hole cut into a piece of cardboard, his landscapes generally all have the same square format. For this painting of the woods, he held the ‘viewfinder’ so only a narrow strip of sky was visible.

Material & Technique
Oil on canvas
Galerie Neue Meister
c. 1902
Inventory number
Gal.-Nr. 2479 A