The Lady in Gold

Adele Bloch-Bauer
Adele Bloch-Bauer

“The lawyer was Randol Schoenberg, the grandson of a venerated Viennese composer who had fled the rise of Hitler. The return of this ominous heir was anything but welcome. The painting Schoenberg sought was a shimmering gold masterpiece, painted a century earlier, by the artistic heretic Gustav Klimt. It was a portrait of a Viennese society beauty, Adele Bloch-Bauer.” 
Anne-Marie O’Connor, The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Bloch-Bauer

“The Lady in Gold” is a brilliant testament to why I have chosen to read non-fiction. Anne-Marie O’Connor transported me to the glittering world of the Viennese Belle Époque, the beautiful era which began in the 1870’s and ended at the beginning of WWI. There I met Gustav Klimt and other brilliant artists, musicians and writers who embodied the Secession motto: “Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit.” (“To every age its art. To every art its freedom.”) This was the world of Adele Bloch-Bauer, The Lady in Gold.

Anne-Marie O’Connor is a masterful storyteller. She weaves personal narratives against the backdrop of a fragile world of unimaginable wealth, political upheaval and a monarchy in transition. The greatest story centers on the 1907 painting by Gustav Klimt: Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. It was a three-year labor of love, commissioned by Adele’s husband, Ferdinand Block-Bauer. What was meant to adorn the wall of an elegant family home, was coveted by others who recognized the genius behind “The Lady in Gold”

The Lady in Gold holds the memorable stories of many who desired its beauty. It is a reminder of the vulnerability of life, the unforeseen circumstances that intrude into our seemingly impenetrable, carefully constructed worlds. The enigmatic Klimt and the beautiful Adele may have passed into history, but their lives are enshrined in a painting that endures.

22 Comments

    1. Clanmother

      You will enjoy this book immensely for there so much world history tied into a family’s history. It gives insight into a world that believed it was invincible, that nothing would mar the glitter, wealth, and social standing. What a journey! Stripped of everything they loved, hunted and imprisoned, the family survived and found redemption. A page turner, Liz! It took me a long time to finish because I was heading off into mini research projects. Many many hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Liz

        Am ordering the book as soon as I finish typing this 🙂 You are such an inspiration – families are so very important, aren’t they and we have such marvellous tools at our fingertips to help us capture their essence. I can’t remember if we told you this during your last visit, but S has been working on our family history and has traced a number of lines back to the 17th and 18th centuries – amazing! Sending much love back to you and yours xxx

        Like

  1. Christy B

    I have not seen the movie but think I would enjoy the book. Are you only reading non-fiction now or do you go between fiction and non-fiction? I’m so happy you’re back publishing blog posts and sharing your reflections on books and history with us xx

    Like

    1. Clanmother

      You would enjoy this book because it brings historical events dramatically to life. The detail was extraordinary – you are there with the family as the traumatic events unfold. Especially telling was how individual choices influenced a family’s destinies and that of their next generation. The movie was excellent as well!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      I agree wholeheartedly, Letizia! We love stories and storytelling. I remember sitting by a campfire and listening to someone share a ghost story. Ah, to feel the spookiness of the shadows cast by the fire against the wooded darkness. Fabulous.

      Like

    1. Clanmother

      So many books, so little time! But that is a comfort to me. When I was young, I was so concerned that I would run out of Nancy Drew books. It is good to know that there will always be a good book waiting to be read! And don’t forget the tea to accompany a afternoon devoted to the art of reading.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gallivanta

        Ah, yes, your worry about running out of books was my worry too. I read the books at home, the books at the library, the books at school, and then I had to start them over. I had more time than books. The prospect that the reverse would be the case one day didn’t even occur to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ms Frances

    I have yet to read the book or see the movie. When I read the book and see the movie, it will be a treat for sure. It is a truly beautiful painting and the story makes it all the more valuable. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      I know you will enjoy the book. The painting is the central theme, but there are many variations upon ghat theme. There were stories upon stories. Weddings, funerals, upheaval, redemption – a glimpse into a world that in no longer. Thank you for your comments.

      Like

    1. Clanmother

      You would enjoy this book, Carrie. The movie was excellent – I do love Helen Mirren. The narrative was immense and the book covered it all and led me on mini-research projects along the way. In other words, it was one of my “slow reads.” What was most intriguing was how artistic endeavour influenced political movements, cultural changes, gender and generational values. It seems that artists have a unique vision of reality and are able to interpret the subtle nuances of our ever-changing world. Which leads me to believe that they are leading indicators. I am so glad that we have connected over the blogger miles. Enjoying our conversations.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother

      I loved Helen Mirren! The movie was exceptional, especially how the director was able to capture the massive timeline with memorable vignettes. I have watched it several times. The book opened my eyes to the drama Vienna Secession movement, where the creative spirit refused to look to past laurels, demanding something new, something fresh. And yet, without the backing of wealthy families, the movement may have diminished over time. It was my reminder to support and encourage young artists, to see the world through their eyes, to recognize artistic endeavour, even though it may not be my liking at the beginning. As time passes, and a new understanding emerges, I may become its strongest supporter. Thank you for stopping by!! I love our conversations.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.