Island in Lake Attersee goes up for auction for the first time

Gustav Klimt: Island in Lake Attersee, 1902, private collection
© Sotheby's

In 1900, Gustav Klimt spent his first summer vacation at Lake Attersee. He stayed at the Bräuhof in Litzlberg on the northern shore of the lake. This accommodation remained his preferred domicile until 1907. Klimt found a multitude of sources of inspiration in the scenic surroundings, from lush fruit trees and mystical glimpses of the forest to the surface of the lake itself, which he immortalized in two impressive paintings. Insel im Attersee, one of these "frames full of lake water", as aptly described by art critic Ludwig Hevesi, will now be auctioned for the first time at Sotheby's New York on May 16, 2023 (7 p.m. EDT).

This "Seebild" was painted in 1902 during Klimt's third summer sojourn. On August 17, 1902, the artist described his daily schedule in a letter to Maria "Mizzi" Zimmermann, in which he mentioned: "[...] after that [!] comes a sea bath, taken with all due care - then a little painting again, a seascape in the sunshine [...]". As in his first work Am Attersee (1900, Leopold Museum, Vienna), the artist skillfully explored the changing colors and textures of the water in various shades of blue. With the help of short, impressionistic brushstrokes, Klimt ultimately succeeded in creating an excellent depiction of the picturesque Upper Austrian lake, which even offers a glimpse of the island of Litzlberg in the distance.