Adele Bloch-Bauer

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Adele Bloch-Bauer
Adele Bloch-Bauer in 1920
Adele Bauer

(1881-08-09)August 9, 1881
DiedJanuary 24, 1925(1925-01-24) (aged 43)[1]
Ferdinand Bloch
(m. 1899; outlived her 1925)

Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1881-1925) was an Austrian Jew who lived in Vienna. She supported many artists. Adele knew the painter Gustav Klimt. She is the only woman he painted more than once. People called her "the Austrian Mona Lisa."[2] After her death, the Nazis stole the paintings from her family. Years later, her niece and some lawyers went to the United States Supreme Court to get them back.

Early life[change | change source]

Adele Bloch-Bauer was born Adele Bauer in 1881. Her father worked as a director for banks and railways.[3]

Marriage[change | change source]

Adele married Ferdinand Bloch when she was 19. He was 17 years older than she was.[3] He liked her so much that instead of her becoming Adele Bloch, they both became Adele and Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. They both liked many artists, including Gustav Klimt. She tried to have children with him, but two of them died before they were born and one baby died after.

Adele's sibling married Ferdinand's sibling, and all four of them used the same last name, Bloch-Bauer. Adele's sibling had two children.

Maria Altmann said her aunt was "rather cold, intellectual woman who was very politically aware and became a socialist. She wasn't happy. It was an arranged marriage but she was childless, after two miscarriages and the death of a baby. I remember her as extremely elegant, tall, dark and thin. She always wore a slinky white dress and used a long, gold cigarette holder."[3]

Bloch-Bauer had parties for artists every week. Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss and Stefan Zweig came to the parties. Some of the educated people who came to the parties convinced Bloch-Bauer to support the poor and help women have the right to vote.[3]

Paintings[change | change source]

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, painted in 1907. The movie Woman in Gold is named after this painting.

According to Klimt's website, Bloch-Bauer was his mistress. She is also the only woman he ever painted twice.[2] Adele's husband, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, hired Klimt to paint both paintings. Klimt painted Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I in 1907 and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II in 1912.[4] Some artists also think Adele Bloch-Bauer might be the woman in The Kiss and Judith and the Head of Holofernes.[3] The first portrait was a gift from Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer to Adele's parents.[3]

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, painted in 1912.
Is Adele Bloch-Bauer the model for Judith in Judith and the Head of Holofernes?

Death[change | change source]

Adele Bloch-Bauer died of meningitis in 1925 when she was 43 years old.[3]

Legal case[change | change source]

During World War II, the Nazis stole Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I from Bloch-Bauer's family. It ended up in the Belvedere Gallery.[3]

In Republic of Austria v. Altmann in 2004, Adele Bloch-Bauer's niece, Maria Altmann, tried to get the painting back from the Belvedere Gallery. The Supreme Court said the painting was Altmann's. Because Aultmann could not pay for insurance and storage, she sold the painting to Ronald Lauder to put in the Neue Gallery in New York City.[3]

Legacy[change | change source]

Bloch-Bauer had a large influence on modern art. Also, in 2016, the street Bloch-Bauer Promenade in Vienna was named after her and her husband.[3]

In popular culture[change | change source]

The 2015 movie Woman in Gold is about Maria Altmann trying to get the painting back from the Belvedere Gallery. Adele Bloch-Bauer is shown in flashbacks.

Pictures[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Elana Shapira. "Adele Bloch-Bauer". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907 by Gustav Klimt". Gustav Klimt. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Kimberly Bradley (September 20, 2016). "The mysterious muse of Gustav Klimt". BBC. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  4. Sarah Cascone (February 8, 2017). "Oprah Sells Famed Gustav Klimt Portrait for $150 Million". Artnet. Retrieved May 20, 2021.