Gustav Klimt (Austrian, 1862–1918)
Oil on canvas
Signed (lower right): GVSTAV / KLIMT
Gift of André and Clara Mertens, in memory of her mother, Jenny Pulitzer Steiner, 1964 (64.148)
Mäda Primavesi was the daughter of the banker and industrialist Otto Primavesi, one of the financial backers of the Wiener Werkstätte, and the actress Eugenia Primavesi (née Butschek), whom Klimt painted in 1913. Young Mäda's portrait was executed in 1912. A series of preliminary pencil sketches, now in public and private collections, show that as the composition evolved, the artist experimented with alternative poses and background motifs. Ultimately, he selected an open, painterly treatment that contrasts with the highly stylized designs adapted for the backgrounds of his fin-de-siècle portraits. The lighthearted, decorative motifs seem particularly appropriate to a nine-year-old sitter.