The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
Knopf, 2012. 349 pages
This is an account of the painter Gustave Klimt and his model Adele Bloch-Bauer, and how World War II brought a tragic end to all concerned. Adele was a well-heeled deb in pre-war Vienna. She broke out of the mold others in her family had decreed. While she was married in a marriage of convenience to a much older man, she still kept her independence and passionate outlook on life.
She modeled several times for Klimt, many of these paintings are well-known, some were destroyed during WWII. The book’s pacing does include lots of characters, it’s hard to keep up with so many people. It’s almost as if the Nazis are the central figure is this story. The higher ranking Nazis went on a juggernaut of theft, re-classifying artwork to support their Aryan agenda. Adele’s portrait was renamed The Lady in Gold, in an effort to remove the stigma of the “degenerate” subject.
The most interesting part of the book, is the effort of many years by a relentless Bloch-Bauer heir to return the painting to her family. This court battle highlighted what present-day Europe is doing to make reparations.