with personal family tragedy. Anna, Klimt’s five-year-old younger sister, died in 1874 following a long illness. This was closely followed by the mental breakdown of another sister, Klara. On an academic level, Gustav Klimt was doing well and was singled out by his teachers as an exceptional draftsman. He was encouraged to take the entrance exam for the Viennese Schools of Arts and Crafts, which he passed with distinction. Klimt attended Kunstgewerbeschule (the Vienna School of Arts), where he studied architectural painting, up to 1883. It was here, while living in abject poverty and accepting a formal conservative training, that the artist developed his passion for the likes of Hans Makart. His traditional study, at the now Austrian Museum of Applied Art/Contemporary Art (MAK), helped to propel Klimt as one of Europe’s leading academic painters and he was comfortable with this at the time. His brother Ernst also joined the school and, like their father, became an engraver. He had left school early – along with his brother – in order to provide for the family following the economic crash of 1873. This financial support was to continue for Klimt’s family throughout his life.
ABOVE: The staircase of the Burgtheater, Vienna.
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