Gustav Klimt’s Final Portrait Set to Be Offered at an Auction

Auction house Sotheby’s announced that Gustav Klimt’s final portrait, titled “Dame mit Fächer” (Lady with a Fan), is set to be offered at an auction in London, UK, later this summer. The painting is expected to fetch $80 million, which would make it the most expensive painting ever sold in Europe.

According to Sotheby’s, Klimt, who is known for his works “The Kiss” and “Judith and the Head of Holofernes,” started working on “Lady with a Fan” in 1917. It was completed in 1918, shortly before his unexpected death in 1918.

“Lady with a Fan” is different from most of Klimt’s works because it was likely a product of the artist’s inspiration. At the time, Klimt was one of the most-respected portraitists, and most of his portraits were commissioned. This one, depicting an unknown woman across a yellow background filled with motifs inspired by East Asian art, is believed to be entirely made “in the pursuit of his own interests.”

“Dame mit Fächer (Lady with a Fan) is the last portrait Gustav Klimt created before his untimely death, when still in his artistic prime and producing some of his most accomplished and experimental works,” says Sotheby’s in the listing. “Many of those works, certainly the portraits for which he is best known, were commissions. This, though, is something completely different – a technical tour de force, full of boundary-pushing experimentation, as well as a heartfelt ode to absolute beauty.”

“Lady with a Fan” was acquired by Austrian industrialist Erwin Böhler shortly after Klimt’s death. It remained in his family until 1967 when it was purchased by Rudolf Leopold, famous art collector and founder of Vienna’s Leopold Museum. The painting was eventually sold to the current owner back in 1994.