Gustav Klimt Portrait of Emilie Floege, c.1902 (detail)

Even during Klimt's lifetime, it was widely assumed that he and Emilie Floge were lovers, yet the truth of the matter, like many things concerning fin-de-siecle sexual mores, may be considerably more complex. Emilie Floge, twelve years Klimt's junior, was the sister of his brother, Ernst's wife. After his death, Gustav was appointed quardian of the couple's newborn daughter. in this capacity, he had free reign in the Floge household and became something of a surrogate uncle to young Emilie. The surviving correspondence between the two is voluminous, yet entirely platonic; their "trysts" involved such innocent activities as French lessons. Would the family have tolerated Klimt's presence in their summer home on the Attersee, as they did almost every year, had the two been clandestine lovers? And would Klimt so openly have paraded his mistess at the theater and opera, as he did Emilie? Klimt's real lovers, as is now known, were not such nice, middle-class ladies, but models and charwomen. If Emilie was the love of his life, she was a pure and sacred love, a Madonna to the whores who, figuratively and literally, occupied the dark alleys of fin-de-siecle sexuality. No wonder that this painting presented its subject as a bejeweled icon, agilded beauty whose decorative trappings constitute a metaphorial chastity belt. Directly anticipating the "gold" portraits of 1906-1907, the picture was exceedingly radical for its day, and perhaps for this reason neither Emilie nor her family liked it. Klimt promised to paint another for her, but never did. The Floges declined to hang the painting, and in 1908 it was acquired by the City of Vienna.

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A lady in a dark blue and green dress with decorations on a dark green background

ID#: 151745
Portrait of Emilie Floege, c.1902 (detail)
Artist: Gustav Klimt
Type: Fine-Art Print
Paper Size: 10" x 12"
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