A 100-year-old drawing by one of Austria’s most celebrated artists has come out of hiding.
Gustav Klimt’s drawing, Two Reclining Figures, has resurfaced after being lost from the Lentos Museum in Linz for decades, apparently hidden in the home of a former assistant at the museum who retired in 1977.
The drawing, which shows two female figures in blissful repose among fluffy bedcovers, was found after the assistant, whose name has not been released, left directions in her will that it be returned to the museum after her death. When she died in December 2017, her personal documents included instructions on where to find the drawing. It was stashed in a closet in her home.
“We were very surprised at this discovery,” said Julius Stieber, director of culture and education for the city of Linz. “We’d received a letter, but no one expected the drawing to be returned.”
Other works missing
The drawing will now be included in a 100-year retrospective showcasing the works of Klimt, as well as Austrian painters Egon Schiele and Koloman Moser on the centenary of their deaths. All three died in 1918.
Along with the Klimt drawing, three works by Schiele went missing after the four pieces were loaned to the museum, then known as the New Gallery, in 1951 by the artist and collector Olga Jager. Her family eventually brought a lawsuit and were awarded more than $10 million for the loss of the artworks.
A spokesman for the city of Linz said there were “no serious indications” that the assistant had taken the Schiele pieces along with the Klimt.
While the Klimt drawing will be returned to the family after the exhibition ends in May — in return for a refund of that part of their settlement — the search is still on for the pieces by Schiele. Officials hope the publicity from the exhibition may help unearth the missing artworks.
A police spokesperson told the Austrian news agency APA that anyone who may have possession of a lost artwork “should ask themselves if they are handling stolen goods, and do the reasonable thing and come forward.”
Another Klimt piece
One of Klimt’s best-known works is Adele Bloch-Bauer, a 1907 portrait that became the subject of a high-profile custody battle between Austria and Austrian-American Maria Altmann, a descendant of the family who owned the painting before it was confiscated by authorities during the Nazi era. The fight was chronicled in a book and movie known as Woman in Gold.
Altmann reclaimed the work in 2006 and sold it to a collector later that year for a record $135 million. It is now on display at the Neue Gallerie in New York City.