Emilie Louise Flöge by Gustav Klimt - 1902 - 178 × 80 cm Wien Museum Emilie Louise Flöge by Gustav Klimt - 1902 - 178 × 80 cm Wien Museum

Emilie Louise Flöge

oil on canvas • 178 × 80 cm
  • Gustav Klimt - July 14, 1862 - February 6, 1918 Gustav Klimt 1902

Emilie Flöge was quite a persona. She and Gustav Klimt were inseparable for years. Although it was never proven that there was something romantic between the two of them the story of their relationship (friendship only?) lasted for 27 years, until Klimt's death. Klimt was a famous womanizer. He never married but he fathered at least fourteen children. He lived with his mother until her death, only three years before his own. So what was it about him and Emilie Flöge?

Emilie Flöge was a member of the Viennese bohemian and fin de siècle circles. She was a successful businesswomen. With her sister she ran an haute couture fashion salon called the Schwestern Flöge (Flöge Sisters). Outside of her salon, Emilie had a more rebellious taste for fashion that conventional society wouldn’t and couldn’t understand at that time. After 1891, Klimt portrayed Emilie in many of his works. Some art historians even believe that his famous "The Kiss" (1907–08) shows the artist and Flöge as lovers.

The portrait above was painted when Flöge was twenty-eight years old. Emilie’s dress is typical Reformkleider, the artistic free-flowing clothing that offered a radical alternative to the strictures and corsets of conventional fashion of the day. The sumptuous fabric covered with ornamental spirals, gold squares, and dots is offset by the geometric pattern of the bodice, a motif presaging Wiener Werkstätte design. This checkered motif was features in a number of dresses worn by Flöge.

Whatever really was between them, friendship or love, this portrait is the great example that it was real. You can read more on their relationship on our online magazine DailyArt Magazine.

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