The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer Info

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National Bestseller
The true story that inspired
the movie Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren and Ryan
Reynolds.


Contributor to the Washington
Post
 Anne-Marie O’Connor brilliantly regales us with the
galvanizing story of Gustav Klimt’s 1907 masterpiece—the
breathtaking portrait of a Viennese Jewish socialite, Adele Bloch-Bauer.
The celebrated painting, stolen by Nazis during World War II,
subsequently became the subject of a decade-long dispute between her
heirs and the Austrian government.

When the U.S. Supreme Court
became involved in the case, its decision had profound ramifications in
the art world. Expertly researched, masterfully told, The Lady in
Gold
is at once a stunning depiction of fin-de siècle Vienna,
a riveting tale of Nazi war crimes, and a fascinating glimpse into the
high-stakes workings of the contemporary art world.

One of the
Best Books of the Year: The Huffington PostThe
Christian Science Monitor.
  
Winner of the Marfield
National Award for Arts Writing. Winner of a California Book
Award. 


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer:

2

Oct 02, 2012

I wanted to like this book, but it was a struggle to get through for three reasons. First, I blame the publisher for the title which I found misleading. Yes, the author's inspiration was the law suit to repatriate Klimt's portrait of Adel Bloch-Bouer. However, the majority of the book has nothing to do with the painting, the lawsuit or the story behind either. It does provide a fascinating picture of Vienna's art world between the wars and a horrifying description of the Nazi occupation of I wanted to like this book, but it was a struggle to get through for three reasons. First, I blame the publisher for the title which I found misleading. Yes, the author's inspiration was the law suit to repatriate Klimt's portrait of Adel Bloch-Bouer. However, the majority of the book has nothing to do with the painting, the lawsuit or the story behind either. It does provide a fascinating picture of Vienna's art world between the wars and a horrifying description of the Nazi occupation of Austria. I wish the title had emphasized the story of the social milieu in which the painting was created and traveled rather than calling the story of the portrait itself fascinating.

Second, I did not like the writing. The author uses fictionalization scenes and peculiarly phrased sentences to paint little vignettes of people and places. I found vignette after vignette to be tiresome and I often didn't know why they were being presented in this context. Why, for example, do we care that Freud skipped a medical lecture to see Mark Twain talk in Vienna? It had nothing to do with Klimt, the painting, Adele or the law suit. It might have been ok as a way to show the overall social scene in Vienna at the time that Klimt lived, but every small 3-4 page chapter was like that.

Third, there was no narrative. The little vignettes followed roughly in chronological order, but I certainly didn't comprehend the whole story. I want details, but not the type of detail that the author gave. I would rather have details of the story itself and a concrete thesis to follow.

In conclusion, I think that the author got confused about why she was writing this book and didn't present her information in the best possible light. That said, I found some of the book interesting, it just wasn't what I had hoped to be reading about. ...more
5

Mar 21, 2012

There are so many reasons to read this book.
- The Lady in Gold is a must read for anyone who loves Klimt or Belle-epoque Vienna.
- It should be required reading for any art student (or art lover).
- It carries the flame of remembrance of the Holocaust in a profoundly moving way.
- It captures the interplay between those who have felt the weight of the collective guilt of the German people
and those who would deny it or trivialize it. (It reminds me of the New German Film of the 1970s) It also There are so many reasons to read this book.
- The Lady in Gold is a must read for anyone who loves Klimt or Belle-epoque Vienna.
- It should be required reading for any art student (or art lover).
- It carries the flame of remembrance of the Holocaust in a profoundly moving way.
- It captures the interplay between those who have felt the weight of the collective guilt of the German people
and those who would deny it or trivialize it. (It reminds me of the New German Film of the 1970s) It also raises the spectre of Austrian and Croatian complicity in important ways.
- The role the US Supreme Court plays in the story of Adele I restitution is a moment of pride for American idealism.
- Anyone interested in International law will also find this intriguing, in a light way.
-O'Connor also captures the insanity of the art auction world, and the impact on family of money, war and remembrance.

I caution you, this is not an easy book to read -- it is painful at times, and the story is convoluted, with as many players as a Tolstoi novel. The style is subtle -straightforward and understated. Yet, it is the sort of book that impacts the soul and lingers.
...more
4

Nov 06, 2015

Subtitled: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer

This is a story of a portrait of a beautiful Viennese Jewish salon hostess, the now-vanished turn-of-the-century Vienna cultural scene of which it became an emblem, the atrocities of the Nazi regime, and the efforts of Adele’s heirs to recover this and other paintings from an Austrian government that wished to hide the realities of war-time complicity.

My husband and I have reproductions of two Klimt Subtitled: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer

This is a story of a portrait of a beautiful Viennese Jewish salon hostess, the now-vanished turn-of-the-century Vienna cultural scene of which it became an emblem, the atrocities of the Nazi regime, and the efforts of Adele’s heirs to recover this and other paintings from an Austrian government that wished to hide the realities of war-time complicity.

My husband and I have reproductions of two Klimt paintings in our home – The Kiss (perhaps his most famous work) and Water Serpents I, so I was immediately interested in the book. I really appreciated that O’Connor took the reader back to the late 19th century and early 20th century to paint the landscape of the era – the parties, the intrigue, the art scene, the romantic scandals, the loving families and not-so-loving marriages. I was completely drawn into this era and felt the loss of it when the narrative moved on to the war years and how the family members endured and/or escaped.

I thought it lost a little momentum when the time frame advanced to modern day and the early efforts of Maria Altmann (Adele’s niece) to recover the paintings which had been stolen from her family. For some of the chapters in the last section of the book O’Connor switched to a first-person narrative, told from Maria’s point of view, and that seemed to interrupt the flow. Still, I was captivated from beginning to end.
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4

Jan 15, 2015

The power of art to tell a story, the power of art to influence and represent a culture, the power of art to create conflict yet also to heal and provide restitution. That is what this book is about to me.

The Lady in Gold is not so much about Klimt and it's not so much about the painting. Yes, it's about Klimt and the painting, but these are mainly jumping off points to tell the story of Vienna and the Jewish aristocracy which was so prominent and influential in Viennese culture at the turn of The power of art to tell a story, the power of art to influence and represent a culture, the power of art to create conflict yet also to heal and provide restitution. That is what this book is about to me.

The Lady in Gold is not so much about Klimt and it's not so much about the painting. Yes, it's about Klimt and the painting, but these are mainly jumping off points to tell the story of Vienna and the Jewish aristocracy which was so prominent and influential in Viennese culture at the turn of the 20th century. We also learn about the plight and fate of these Viennese Jews after WWI and before, during and after WWII and how WWI created a culture ripe for increased antisemitism and the acceptance of promise Hitler made to create a stable, prosperous, united Germany. The bulk of this book is devoted to telling these stories with the Bloch-Bauer family at the center.

Less of the book was about the niece of of Adele, Marie, and other heirs' efforts to gain back this painting and others that they believed were rightly theirs. This legal battle started in the late 90's and culminated successfully in the early 2000's.

I really liked this book and was riveted through most of it. Yet I must say I agree with some of the criticisms of others reviewers.
- The title does not represent what this book is about! See above :-)
- so many people's names to keep track of and remember who they were, how they were related and how they were relevant. A family tree would have been great.
- sometimes the vignettes jumped around in place and time making it hard to keep up and stay connected
- the author switched in the last part of the book from telling third person stories to writing in first person seemingly without warning. I kept wondering who "I" was when I realized it was her describing her interactions with the heirs and her experience in Vienna doing research.

Not wanting to end my review on a sour note, I highly recommend this book. O'Connor tells an important story and makes it interesting and creates at times heart-pounding suspense by putting people rather than facts at the center.

A movie based on the book, The Woman in Gold, is coming out April 3 starring Helen Mirren. I'm looking forward to it. ...more
3

Jul 20, 2015

Oh poo. I was hoping to love this one more than I did. The Lady in Gold, as the subtitle suggests, is the story of the famous portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt. The portrait itself is magnificent, so I was utterly intrigued. Did the book deliver? Meeeeh. I had several issues here:

1. History is not black and white. O'Connor sort of came across as this crusader on the mission that read "Jews - good, Austria - bad". Undeniably the Nazi party did horrendous things to the European Oh poo. I was hoping to love this one more than I did. The Lady in Gold, as the subtitle suggests, is the story of the famous portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt. The portrait itself is magnificent, so I was utterly intrigued. Did the book deliver? Meeeeh. I had several issues here:

1. History is not black and white. O'Connor sort of came across as this crusader on the mission that read "Jews - good, Austria - bad". Undeniably the Nazi party did horrendous things to the European population based on their race and background, but Austria wasn't divided clearly into Nazis and Jews. It's as if anybody who didn't resist the Nazis were evil supporters of Holocaust. How about the Austrians who hid Jews at the risk of their lives? How about Jews who sympathized with Germany's vision of dominance and growth until the genocide began? Austrians are all evil, all out to get the Jews, and museums that tried to save the art after the war were actually marauding criminals, racing against each other to satisfy their greed. Or at least that is the impression I got from reading The Lady in Gold. My stance on the topic is that history is a vast ocean filled with circumstance, personal passions, mistakes, chances, and survival. You cannot lump people into one pile based on their nationality, miss O'Connor. Oh wait, that's what the Nazis did. Let's learn from that.

2. The story deviates too much into brief biographies of multiple historical characters, and eventually you start losing track of who is who, and how they are related to the Bloch-Bauer portrait. There are chapters upon chapters of horrors of war, which again relate little about the art itself. Because of that the subtitle of the book is somewhat misleading. Considering that Klimt never discussed his private affairs and very few documents of Adele survived to present day, I should have expected that the much-speculated affair would not become any more clear after this book.

3. Too much speculation. The author imagines what goes though her subjects' heads as if this was fiction. How much of this can I attribute to the imagination of miss O'Connor and how much to her research, I don't know.

4. This is not the authors fault, but I hated the part when the five heirs were choosing what to do with the Klimt collection that was returned to them by the courts. Only one of them wanted to send the paintings to museums in Austria, so they could be enjoyed by the public as national treasure. The rest wanted to sell to private collectors. And then they have the audacity to claim it wasn't for money. "That's what Adele would have wanted", they say. She would want these paintings locked up in bedrooms of filthy rich magnates who see them purely as smart investment pieces? One of such paintings was sold to that guy who put his elbow through a Picasso. Yep, what a fate!

I did enjoy the description of pre-war Vienna, Klimt's liberated view of art, and Adele's short, but impactful life. Unfortunately, the book was bloated in places by unrelated trivia, and I disagreed with the author's stance on some issues. You win some, you lose some. Overall, an average kind of study of a famous masterpiece. I don't think I will be revisiting it anytime soon. ...more
2

Oct 23, 2012

I had the great luck to see the two Gustav Klimt paintings of Adele Bloch-Bauer at the Oesterreichse Gallerie Belvedere in during my college years and vaguely followed the news about the US court case from the heirs of the original owners, so when I learned of this book, I picked it up immediately.

And the book does deliver on the title--we learn what happened to the portrait pictured on the cover, and the ensuing court case.

However, O'Connor also expanded the book to become a biography of those I had the great luck to see the two Gustav Klimt paintings of Adele Bloch-Bauer at the Oesterreichse Gallerie Belvedere in during my college years and vaguely followed the news about the US court case from the heirs of the original owners, so when I learned of this book, I picked it up immediately.

And the book does deliver on the title--we learn what happened to the portrait pictured on the cover, and the ensuing court case.

However, O'Connor also expanded the book to become a biography of those directly involved in the world of Bloch-Bauer and her heirs, which becomes completely and utterly confusing when the book reaches World War II. I coudn't keep track of the people she wrote about--who were the heirs and who were just friends of the Bloch-Bauers and met sad ends during the war.

That confusion took me out of the narrative, and took me out of what might have been a more gripping true-life story.

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5

Oct 13, 2012

A great book for lovers of art history and European history. The author takes you first to turn-of-the-century Vienna and introduces you to the painter, Gustav Klimt, and to Adele Bloch-Bauer, the subject, and her friends and family. Then you are taken on a journey with the painting and the family through World War I (and the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and World War II (and the end, or the travails, of many of the Jews of Europe, including members of the Bloch-Bauer family and their A great book for lovers of art history and European history. The author takes you first to turn-of-the-century Vienna and introduces you to the painter, Gustav Klimt, and to Adele Bloch-Bauer, the subject, and her friends and family. Then you are taken on a journey with the painting and the family through World War I (and the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and World War II (and the end, or the travails, of many of the Jews of Europe, including members of the Bloch-Bauer family and their friends--also the theft by the Nazis of many of the great works of art in private and public hands, including much of Klimt's work--this painting, too). Then you learn how the family tried to get the painting back from the government of Austria, which claimed it was given to that country's state art museum rather than "Aryanized" by the Nazis.

This book made me want to go to Vienna (if only I could go to Vienna in about 1910, that would be even better) and made me want to see this painting in person. My only wish was that the book included color plates of the paintings and other works described, in addition to its many black-and-white photos of the main characters. Although this book is not a comprehensive treatment of the Nazi art theft (see The Rape of Europa for that) or of the Holocaust or of Vienna's golden age, it is a well-written, engrossing treatment of all three together in the context of the biography of a beautiful painting. ...more
4

Dec 18, 2015

No review on this one, just a short reaction. This is far more than just the tale of a painting and its artist / subject. It holds a cast of 1000's and highlights the incredible Vienna of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. So many factors of advance and philosophy, apart from the politico forming. Art, science, and myriad paths followed by the affluent and in golden age serendipity to meeting towards a pinnacle. It's an extremely difficult read and the dozens of photos and other asides No review on this one, just a short reaction. This is far more than just the tale of a painting and its artist / subject. It holds a cast of 1000's and highlights the incredible Vienna of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. So many factors of advance and philosophy, apart from the politico forming. Art, science, and myriad paths followed by the affluent and in golden age serendipity to meeting towards a pinnacle. It's an extremely difficult read and the dozens of photos and other asides helped to understand the process and also the aftermath of power and idea. Not only in the administrative or criminal justice process but in the spirit of origin and subsequent discoveries and associative descendants. ...more
3

Mar 18, 2012

This is a fascinating book with a cast of thousands that is sometimes hard to keep track of—and I am impressed that the author was able to keep all the complicated details in order. More than just the story of a famous painting, THE LADY IN GOLD covers:
*the art of Gustav Klimt and other Austrian artists both before, during and after the Nazi era
*the rich artistic culture in Austria before the war
*how deeply involved many Jewish Austrians were as artists, models and art patrons and collectors
*how This is a fascinating book with a cast of thousands that is sometimes hard to keep track of—and I am impressed that the author was able to keep all the complicated details in order. More than just the story of a famous painting, THE LADY IN GOLD covers:
*the art of Gustav Klimt and other Austrian artists both before, during and after the Nazi era
*the rich artistic culture in Austria before the war
*how deeply involved many Jewish Austrians were as artists, models and art patrons and collectors
*how World War II decimated the Austrian Jewish community
*the ways Austria cooperated with the Nazis both in “ridding the country” of people of Jewish descent, and in confiscating the art collections of Jewish citizens
*how up until recently, the Austrian government not only refused to admit its collaboration with the Nazis, but a younger generation has called for truth-telling and reparations
*how many Nazi functionaries from Hitler on down stole 20% of the artworks of Europe and hid them in bunkers and castles and mines
*that until a feisty Austrian refugee took legal action against the Austrian government, most Jewish people who had escaped Nazi Austria had not received their “captured” art, homes, businesses or other holdings back

There are numerous paintings I will never look at in quite the same way since I now know the human cost behind the paintings.
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5

Nov 13, 2016

“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 “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.
https://ontheroadbookclub.com/2016/11...
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4

Apr 08, 2012

I suspect that most people are familiar with Gustav Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer" the modernist painting of the heavy-lidded dark-haired woman surrounded by a shimmering mosaic of gold. I picked up the book expecting nothing more than a further elaboration on the subject's heirs successful international legal battle to recover the artwork. Yet, the title of the book does not do justice to the scope of O'Connor's exhaustively researched and detailed work.

O'Connor opens the book with I suspect that most people are familiar with Gustav Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer" the modernist painting of the heavy-lidded dark-haired woman surrounded by a shimmering mosaic of gold. I picked up the book expecting nothing more than a further elaboration on the subject's heirs successful international legal battle to recover the artwork. Yet, the title of the book does not do justice to the scope of O'Connor's exhaustively researched and detailed work.

O'Connor opens the book with alternating chapters detailing Klimt and Bloch-Bauer's backgrounds. Klimt was born into an impoverished family, but he had talent and a powerful sexual magnetism that attracted women at the highest levels of Viennese society (and led to a number of illegitimate children). Bloch-Bauer married a prominent industrialist and, childless, she established a glittering salon of Viennese intellectuals and artists. Although Klimt was viewed as a heretic in his time, he received many portrait commissions from progressive and wealthy Austrian Jews. Bloch-Bauer and Klimt had a close association for many years (and perhaps an affair), and she was the subject of the famous painting that Austrian's view as their "Mona Lisa."

The second part of the book, which this reader found to be the most successful, picks up in 1937 after the deaths of Klimt in 1918 and Bloch-Bauer in 1925. O'Connor captures the fear of the Jewish Viennese aristocracy against the rise of anti-semitism. The book is gripping in drama as Jewish families are destroyed and their businesses, homes, and art collections are confiscated by Nazis. The portrait, stripped of its subject's Jewish identity by being renamed "Dame in Gold," was stored in a former monastery during the war and was taken to the Belvedere which enhanced its collection through the Nazi's "uncommonly prolific acquisition policy."

The third part of the book chronicles repetent Viennese, such as Hubertus Czernin, a Viennese investigative journalist, who could not recover lives lost but could report on Autria's complicity in the Holocaust and led the cry to return stolen artwork to its murdered and wronged Jewish citizens. It also details the legal battles of Bloch-Bauer's neice, Maria, who was able to gain her husband's release from Dachua in exchange for family assets. Maria and her husband escaped Vienna and, with the help of a young, inexperienced lawyer who took the case on a contigency basis, successfully sued Austria in U.S. courts for the return of her aunt's portrait.

O'Connor presents an enormous amount of information, some of which is peripheral to her subject, but it is all fascinating and makes for a compelling tale of art and the Holocaust. ...more
3

Sep 14, 2014

This book was one of the selections for my in-person book club. When it was selected I assumed it would be more like Girl With a Pearl Earring or Girl in Hyacinth Blue, novelizations of the story of how a painting was made.

That is not what this book is. It is a non-fiction account of one painting and others, from when Klimt was alive up into the 21st century with the legal battle removing the painting from the Belvedere in Vienna and giving it to descendents of the woman in the painting.

I have This book was one of the selections for my in-person book club. When it was selected I assumed it would be more like Girl With a Pearl Earring or Girl in Hyacinth Blue, novelizations of the story of how a painting was made.

That is not what this book is. It is a non-fiction account of one painting and others, from when Klimt was alive up into the 21st century with the legal battle removing the painting from the Belvedere in Vienna and giving it to descendents of the woman in the painting.

I have to admit to enjoying the first third of the book the most. It focuses on the time of the painting and of the artist. I was fascinated by the Vienna of the early 20th century and the character of Klimt. There were quite a few paintings of his I'd never heard of, and other artists that were unfamiliar. I spent a lot of time looking up images of these paintings, since the book only had black and white photos.

The majority of the book, the second section, tells the story of the painting in the context of World War II. It suffers from not presenting any new information in the bigger facts (art was stolen from Jewish families before they were killed or pushed out of the country, the Holocaust, etc.), but also suffers from too much detail in following all the minor characters even tangentially related to the story. It would have been stronger to focus in.

The last section follows the very recent legal battle and points to a culture of denial in Vienna after the war that allowed stolen property to remain the property of the state. I didn't realize how recent much of the art restitution movements had been, particularly in Austria. Even the Looted Art Commission has only been around since 1999. ...more
4

Sep 09, 2015

UPDATE: I recently checked this film out of the library again and thought it great the 2nd time around. It seemed like the film offered more in the area of the social life of Klimt and life in Vienna at the time this painting appeared on the scene: perhaps the movie brought specific ideas into better light by focusing on them more deeply and others less. A case of relativity? There is just a handful of movies that improve upon the book: Stephen King's "Carrie" and "The Shining" are 2 of them. UPDATE: I recently checked this film out of the library again and thought it great the 2nd time around. It seemed like the film offered more in the area of the social life of Klimt and life in Vienna at the time this painting appeared on the scene: perhaps the movie brought specific ideas into better light by focusing on them more deeply and others less. A case of relativity? There is just a handful of movies that improve upon the book: Stephen King's "Carrie" and "The Shining" are 2 of them. (Is it the horror visuals?) Another is Kubrick's film masterpiece, "2001: A Space Odyssey", one of my favorites of all time but I found the book simply unmemorable. Since I've mentioned a certain director 2 times, perhaps it's a "Kubrick Effect". Then there is Hitchcock's "Psycho", also better than Bloch's book. I've returned to the 'horror effect' and there are scenes in "Psycho" (and that score) so deeply buried in my brain that the book didn't come close to the film: Hitchcock batted that one out of the park.

ORIGINAL:
When I visited the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, I first reviewed the brochure at the ticket booth. To my great surprise, there it was, Klimt's "The Kiss", and I asked the lady selling tickets if this work was really on display. (Is it possible that I was about to see the real thing, having spent years with images of this ubiquitous work?) She smiled and nodded proudly. Then I ask about the "one with the lady surrounded by gold." Her smile disappeared, she completed our transaction quickly, then waved the next customer forward. And now I know why she reacted as she did. O'Connor writes, "What is the value of a painting that has come to evoke the theft of six million lives?" With a brilliant combination of mysterious art-theft elements (as in "The Goldfinch") and intense personal WW2 stories (as in "All the Light We Cannot See"), this author tells a true story in a style that's far more interesting than both of the aforementioned books combined, and both of those won a Pulitzer. Why not this? Could it be there are people in the world today haunted by the actions of their families, their ancestors, so much so they just don't want this story told? Absolutely! I do not recall this case in which the US Supreme Court battles with Vienna over this art work. If you don't either, you're in for a truly thrilling story. My advice? Don't read the book flaps, know nothing, and dive right in to this miraculous tale. ...more
5

Sep 08, 2013

If you enjoy art history or would enjoy WWII European History, you'll enjoy The Lady in Gold. My memory of learning about Gustav Klimt as a freshman in college was that he was a this jerk who lived a dissipated life, dying an early death. His overall contribution to Modern Art was not as significant as other artists at the same time, and we only briefly considered his work.

This book changed my viewpoint on Klimt's work. I thought it was interesting that he got his inspiration for his later If you enjoy art history or would enjoy WWII European History, you'll enjoy The Lady in Gold. My memory of learning about Gustav Klimt as a freshman in college was that he was a this jerk who lived a dissipated life, dying an early death. His overall contribution to Modern Art was not as significant as other artists at the same time, and we only briefly considered his work.

This book changed my viewpoint on Klimt's work. I thought it was interesting that he got his inspiration for his later paintings after a visit to Ravenna where he saw the Byzantine mosaics of Empress Theodora and that influenced his painting of Adele. I've never seen this painting, but I imagine it is amazing as it is personal.

Behind every portrait is a real person, and the stories of the people surrounding Klimt are as rich and complex as the gold leaf woven into his paintings. There is a dark side to his work that represents a civilized society that only a short time later after his death was welcoming the Third Reich with open arms. It is incredible that not only were Jewish families plundered of all their assets practically overnight, but that the Austrian government held on to stolen art over 60 years later with little apology. Anne-Marie O'Conner does an incredible job bringing us the drama of how these paintings ended up back with their rightful owners.

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4

Jun 28, 2016

You don't have to become an art expert, but you have to know what is genuine, what style is. You have to learn to see. You have to develop a feeling for quality. Once you have learned to enjoy the great works of art, the plastic arts and literature, then you will be able to evaluate people, whether they are valuable or worthless.

Happy he who forgets what cannot be changed.

Only the person who places the highest demands on himself can progress one step further. Self-satisfied individuals are You don't have to become an art expert, but you have to know what is genuine, what style is. You have to learn to see. You have to develop a feeling for quality. Once you have learned to enjoy the great works of art, the plastic arts and literature, then you will be able to evaluate people, whether they are valuable or worthless.

Happy he who forgets what cannot be changed.

Only the person who places the highest demands on himself can progress one step further. Self-satisfied individuals are incapable of development.

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.

A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the mainstream of the world.

Beware of criticizing things and conditions that you have no idea about or are unfamiliar to you. Beware of being disrespectful! You have to be thorough in everything!

To Strauss the composer I take off my hat, to Strauss the man I put it back on again.

Any nonsense can attain importance by virtue of being believed by millions of people.

If humans, now that at long last it has become obvious that money is dirt, they do not deserve for money to be dirt.

One will always forget the days passing, in the midst of the effort and the beauty of the present day, and the hope of the unforeseen in the days to come.

Has not everything that we give already lost its way when it is not transformed into help or love?

Even as a young girl, I had the feeling I 'stood above the mob'.

Think, dear friend, reflect on the world you carry within yourself. (A fellow soul-seeker)

Randy was convinced he was absolutely right. I had met few people in my life so certain of this.

The arc of life is long, but it tends towards justice.

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5

Aug 01, 2019

I listened to this book in audio narration. It is a powerful story of pre-war Vienna the work of Klimpt and Adele the model for his now-famous lady in gold. The prewar years of Vienna modernism were of great interest but the story abruptly shifts with the Anschluss of Austria and the Nazi takeover of that state. There are multiple vignettes which can be confusing at times of Adele's relatives as they confront the growing horror of the new regime and either find ways out or ways to elude being I listened to this book in audio narration. It is a powerful story of pre-war Vienna the work of Klimpt and Adele the model for his now-famous lady in gold. The prewar years of Vienna modernism were of great interest but the story abruptly shifts with the Anschluss of Austria and the Nazi takeover of that state. There are multiple vignettes which can be confusing at times of Adele's relatives as they confront the growing horror of the new regime and either find ways out or ways to elude being murdered. The storyline might be a bit tangled but the shock, horror, and dread of Nazi crimes and a whole nation gone mad is palpably clear and communicated to the reader with a gut punch. The story of the attempt to retrieve the lost painting and denial of the Austrian state and the collective amnesia of its past crimes is also elucidating. If one wants to understand how things went terribly wrong in Austria and Germany in the thirties one could do well to pick up this book. ...more
3

Apr 28, 2015

Read more of our reviews at: www.thebookjarblog.wordpress.com

The Lady In Gold is the story of Gustav Klimt's portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, a wealthy Jewish-Austrian woman who's family was forced to flee during the Nazi occupation. The Bloch-Bauer family were once prominent, wealthy people in the Austrian society who were patrons of art and theater. Klimt had been commissioned to paint Adele for her husband Ferdinand, and from this commission, the Lady in Gold. However, the painting's history Read more of our reviews at: www.thebookjarblog.wordpress.com

The Lady In Gold is the story of Gustav Klimt's portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, a wealthy Jewish-Austrian woman who's family was forced to flee during the Nazi occupation. The Bloch-Bauer family were once prominent, wealthy people in the Austrian society who were patrons of art and theater. Klimt had been commissioned to paint Adele for her husband Ferdinand, and from this commission, the Lady in Gold. However, the painting's history and the history of the Block-Bauer's were erased once the Nazi's took over. Maria was Adele's niece, and she was desperate to get back the few items left that belong to her family, this painting was one of them. The Austrian government refused and Maria decided to sue.

I picked up this book because I wanted to read the story before I saw the movie, Woman in Gold. The story is a complicated tale of the history of the Nazi occupation and the Austrian's government desire to ignore their compliance during the occupation. O'Conner gives a rich history of the Bloch-Bauer family that is fascinating and also confusing, I felt some of the details that O'Conner gave could have been left out to help the story move faster. She did a great job explaining the history of Klimt, the Bloch-Bauer family and the Nazi occupation, but I felt she left out some of the most crucial parts of the story. 2/3 of the story was devoted to history, and only 1/3 was actually devoted to Marie and her desire to obtain the painting. I would've liked to have read more about Marie, her life after fleeing Austria and the legal case of suing the Austrian government for the painting. If you want to read about Klimt, prominent Jewish families in Austrian society and the Nazi occupation in Austria, this is the book for you. If you want to read about the legal case of the Lady In Gold painting, look elsewhere. 3/5 ...more
2

Mar 26, 2012

The tale is indeed extraordinary, but not portrayed very well in this book. I was really disappointed - the writing was disjointed and hard to follow.
4

Jan 03, 2019

Really fascinating. Read this whilst in Vienna, and it really affected how I saw things here.
5

Apr 01, 2012

An engrossing book, I suppose you could call it a biography of a painting and the world around it. It explores the painting itself, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, and it's creation as a kind of collaboration between the Jewish model and the artist, Gustav Klimt. But it goes much deeper, showing us the Viennese world at the time of its inception: a glowing, golden, culturally rich city where intellectual Jewish society was at the foreground. It traces the rise of Naziism in Austria, how the Jews at the An engrossing book, I suppose you could call it a biography of a painting and the world around it. It explores the painting itself, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, and it's creation as a kind of collaboration between the Jewish model and the artist, Gustav Klimt. But it goes much deeper, showing us the Viennese world at the time of its inception: a glowing, golden, culturally rich city where intellectual Jewish society was at the foreground. It traces the rise of Naziism in Austria, how the Jews at the core of this cultural blooming were dispossessed of the world they had built and the artworks they treasured . . . and far worse, as we know. Finally, the book follows the court case as the heirs of Adele try to regain the paintings that were taken from their family.

I found it compelling to read, but was sometimes confused by the large cast of people who necessarily appear and recur in the book. A list of all the names and a very brief reminder of their place in the story would have been helpful, especially for someone like me who has no prior knowledge of any of them. I recommend sketching out a quick family tree as you come across characters, which will make it easier to understand the relationships as the history unfolds. Besides that, this was a fabulous read. ...more
2

Jul 28, 2013

I didn't really figure out what the story was until the end of the book - there was lots of interesting information about the Adele, Klimt, their families, the changes taking place in turn-of-the-century Vienna, about the rise of Hitler in Austria, the atrocities of the Nazis and the theft of the belongings of those persecuted by the Nazis. Sometimes the information didn't seem related to the painting and that got confusing. Ultimately, the story was the Bloch-Bauer family's efforts to reclaim I didn't really figure out what the story was until the end of the book - there was lots of interesting information about the Adele, Klimt, their families, the changes taking place in turn-of-the-century Vienna, about the rise of Hitler in Austria, the atrocities of the Nazis and the theft of the belongings of those persecuted by the Nazis. Sometimes the information didn't seem related to the painting and that got confusing. Ultimately, the story was the Bloch-Bauer family's efforts to reclaim the Klimt paintings stolen during the war, and then restolen after the war. The elderly niece of Adele and a young attorney managed to get the famous painting returned in a rather David-and-Goliath legal battle. All the rest was back story but since it was presented before the main story, it was hard to figure out what the point was. Not my favorite narration either - that didn't help. ...more
5

Feb 13, 2012

Disclosure: Anne-Marie O'Connor is a friend of mine, but I have to just add a few words here to say how much I admire the way she's synthesized all this material into a gripping story of people, art, human nature (the worst kind), war, memory, recompense. There is something on every page that surprises -- the sort of facts and tangents that a more narrow account might have edited out, but that beautifully illuminate the larger story to be told here. You can tell this book was carefully written Disclosure: Anne-Marie O'Connor is a friend of mine, but I have to just add a few words here to say how much I admire the way she's synthesized all this material into a gripping story of people, art, human nature (the worst kind), war, memory, recompense. There is something on every page that surprises -- the sort of facts and tangents that a more narrow account might have edited out, but that beautifully illuminate the larger story to be told here. You can tell this book was carefully written and that every sentence was thoughtfully considered, researched and arranged. The short-chapter organization and illustrations are a masterful way to usher the reader through a story that takes a century to play out. I don't read a lot of art history or true tales of museum shenanigans and lost treasures very much. But I have to say I was addicted to this one. ...more
4

Feb 09, 2012

In 1907, when Austrian artist Gustav Klimt painted his famed portrait of the Viennese socialite Adele Bloch-Bauer, he could not have known that the sophisticated world inhabited by the sitter's wealthy Jewish family would be destroyed by the Nazi takeover of the country in 1938. Adele's heirs fled to Switzerland – their business interests in tatters and their art collection, including the portrait, confiscated by Hitler's minions...

The rest of my review is available free online at The Huffington In 1907, when Austrian artist Gustav Klimt painted his famed portrait of the Viennese socialite Adele Bloch-Bauer, he could not have known that the sophisticated world inhabited by the sitter's wealthy Jewish family would be destroyed by the Nazi takeover of the country in 1938. Adele's heirs fled to Switzerland – their business interests in tatters and their art collection, including the portrait, confiscated by Hitler's minions...

The rest of my review is available free online at The Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02... ...more
4

Nov 05, 2019

The title of the book is a bit misleading, as the first 2/3 really tells more of the story of the Bloch-Bauer family and how their world was destroyed when the Nazi's entered Austria.

Adele Bloch-Bauer was a socialite of the highest order in the Vienna of the late 19th and early 20th century. She was also a woman who craved education and intelligent conversation. She became acquainted with Gustav Klimt at the time when he revolted against the "expectations" of art and became a founding member of The title of the book is a bit misleading, as the first 2/3 really tells more of the story of the Bloch-Bauer family and how their world was destroyed when the Nazi's entered Austria.

Adele Bloch-Bauer was a socialite of the highest order in the Vienna of the late 19th and early 20th century. She was also a woman who craved education and intelligent conversation. She became acquainted with Gustav Klimt at the time when he revolted against the "expectations" of art and became a founding member of The Succession Movement of Art.

As I mentioned the early parts of the book take you through the war years and the German/Austrian theft of millions of dollars of Art. The book follows the painting through the years up to and including The landmark Supreme court decision that basically held Austria accountable to the families who lost so much.

This book is not for everyone, thus a 5 star rating wasn't in the mix. However, I enjoyed the history of the painting and learning a few things about the Jewish culture of Austria before the war.

...more
4

May 07, 2019

Extremely ambitious, deeply researched and succesfully achieved. Wonderful read. Didn’t expect to enjoy a “historical” book this much. Nevertheless, maybe there was too little about the actual “Lady in Gold” in the book that was supposedly named after her. I did deepen my understanding of WWII times, and got to enjoy individual background stories.

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