Hungary

Gustav Klimt: Letter from Gustav Klimt in Tata Tóváros to Anna Klimt in Vienna, 01/06/1893, The Albertina Museum
© ALBERTINA, Wien

Gustav Klimt: Auditorium of the Theater of Esterházy Palace in Totis, 1893, Verbleib unbekannt
© Galerie Welz

Gustav Klimt visited Hungary several times for artistic commissions or exhibitions. His sojourns in Totis, Budapest and Raab in the years 1893, 1911, 1913 and 1915 are reflected in his correspondence and in newspaper reports.

Sojourn in Totis (1893)
In early 1893, Gustav Klimt spent some time in Totis (now Tata Tóváros, Hungary). His visit was connected to the artistic decoration of the new palace theater (demolished in 1913) of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy and/or the painting Auditorium of the Theater of Esterházy Palace in Totis (1893, current location unknown). In a letter (Klimt Archives, Albertina, Vienna) dated 6 January 1893, Klimt reported to his mother Anna that he had spent marvelous days in the company of the prince, had taken part in many convivial gatherings and had, as a result, always gone to bed quite late. Klimt added:

“Work was rather dubious, firstly because I was completely exhausted, secondly, as I’ve said, no peace day and night. Now all has gone quiet here. […] After the fuss is over, I am going back to a very gloomy mood, especially since I am alone all day.”

On 10 January 1893 he wrote another letter to his mother Anna (Klimt Archives, Albertina, Vienna), in which he told her that he would not make it back to Vienna in time to officially assume guardianship of his niece Helene – the daughter of his recently deceased brother. He intended, however, to return to them on Friday, 13 January 1893.

“Viennese Architects’ Trip to Budapest” (1911)
In October 1911 the newspapers Neue Freie Presse and Neues Wiener Tagblatt reported that some representatives of the Austrian Architects’ Society would be traveling to Budapest on an invitation of the Association of Hungarian Architects some time in the future. According to the reports, artists such as Otto Wagner, Kolo Moser, Alfred Roller, Josef Hoffmann and Gustav Klimt had by then announced their participation.

The journey finally took place in December 1911. A total of 24 members of the association, including Gustav Klimt, arrived in the Hungarian capital on 8 December 1911. The group for instance visited the Hungarian artists’ association Művészház, where Edmund Lechner gave them a tour of the retrospective of the Hungarian painter Károly Kernstok. The Neue Freie Presse reported about this visit on 9 December 1911:

“The visitors […] expressed their admiration for the wonderful exhibition. Gustav Klimt congratulated the painter Kernstok on behalf of the Viennese artists.”

The same evening, the architect Otto Wagner gave a public lecture titled “Die Qualität des Baukünstlers” [“The Quality of the Architect”] in the assembly hall of the old parliament. The newspapers made no mention of the group’s scheduled return to Vienna.

Gustav Klimt: Picture postcard from Gustav Klimt in Raab to Emilie Flöge in Vienna, 10/28/1915, Klimt Foundation
© Klimt Foundation, Vienna

Austrian Artists’ League Exhibits in Budapest (1913)
The Austrian Artists’ League, which had been co-founded by Gustav Klimt, held its first exhibition at the venue of the Hungarian artists’ association Művészház in March 1913. Klimt himself presented 10 of his works. According to a letter from Gustav Klimt to Emilie Flöge, who was staying in Paris at the time, the exhibition was scheduled to open on 2 March. For unknown reasons, however, the opening was considerably delayed. On 6 March, Klimt wrote again to Emilie: “Haven’t heard anything from Pest – nothing at all – there must be very little going on – as I imagined.” Only one day later, he sent a telegram to Emilie Flöge, telling her that “unfortunately” he would have to attend the exhibition opening in Budapest.

Apart from Klimt, who, according to various media reports, was greeted with thunderous applause as president of the Austrian Artists’ League, the architect Josef Hoffmann, the sculptor Anton Hanak and the painter Ferdinand Andri were among the guests at the exhibition opening.

Visit to the Lederer Family (1915)
On 27 October 1915, Gustav Klimt departed from the Ostbahnhof and traveled to Raab (now Győr, Hungary), where he visited the industrialist August Lederer and his wife Serena at their family estate. The reason for the visit is unknown. Klimt’s correspondence with Emilie Flöge reveals little about the train ride and the short sojourn. He told Emilie that he intended to be back home as early as 29 October 1915; otherwise, he would send her a telegram. The exact date of Gustav Klimt’s return to Vienna is as yet unknown.

Literature and sources

  • Tobias G. Natter, Franz Smola, Peter Weinhäupl (Hg.): Klimt persönlich. Bilder – Briefe – Einblicke, Ausst.-Kat., Leopold Museum (Vienna), 24.02.2012–27.08.2012, Vienna 2012.
  • Tobias G. Natter (Hg.): Gustav Klimt. Sämtliche Gemälde, Vienna 2012.
  • Alfred Weidinger (Hg.): Gustav Klimt, Munich - Berlin - London - New York 2007.
  • Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 18.10.1911, S. 12.
  • Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 11.03.1913, S. 13.
  • Neue Freie Presse, 18.10.1911, S. 1.
  • Neue Freie Presse, 09.12.1911, S. 4.
  • Sport und Salon. Illustrirte Zeitschrift für die vornehme Welt, 16.12.1911, S. 13.
  • Reichspost, 11.03.1913, S. 8.
  • Neues Wiener Tagblatt (Abendausgabe), 09.12.1911, S. 3.