The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer By Anne-Marie O’Conner
Perhaps stolen paintings weren’t the worst tragedy of World War II. But for Hubertus Czernin, the art was a publicly visible symbol of Austria’s failure to indemnify its murdered and wronged Jewish citizens. Lost lives could not be recovered. But paintings could be returned – The Lady In Gold
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
Published: 2012, 349 pages.