A Rare Beauty

Gustav Klimt's 1894 portrait of Marie Breunig offers a rare glimpse at the master's style before his years with the Vienna Secession. No gold leaf. No mannerist contortions. No flattened fields of pattern and color. The staggered rectilinear shapes that form the background heralded the artist's mature period, but this work is rooted in a cool, restrained formality much in vogue among portrait artists of the time. There is even a touch of Ingres' handling in the anatomy of the lady's soft forearm and digits, the deftly painted jewelry, and the rich plushness of her gown. This splendid portrait resides in a private Austrian collection.

Gustav Klimt. Portrait of Marie Breunig, 1894