Gustav Klimt

Klimt’s portrait of a young woman in strict profile is striking for both its economy of means and stark visual contrasts. The artist mostly eschewed modeling, delineating the young woman’s features with concise contours. He first drew the nude figure before adding the more abstractly rendered dress, under which the lighter, initial graphite lines can still be seen. Klimt retraced and reinforced the young woman’s chin and neck with a more incisive line set against hatching in the negative space, placing her face in sharper relief. The artist also exploited the juxtaposition of darker graphite with the white of the sheet to brilliant effect, accentuating the form of her lips, lowered eyelid, and arched eyebrow.

Gustav Klimt
Austrian, 1862–1918
Portrait of a Girl in Profile Facing Left, ca. 1904–7
Graphite pencil
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, INV. NO. C 1922-2
© Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Photo: Herbert Boswank