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Seated Female Nude, Her Head Resting on Her Right Knee. Study for Death and Life, 1908/09

Leopold Museum,
India ink (pen) on Japanese paper
56.6×37.4 cm


  • Gustav Klimt

    (Baumgarten near Vienna/Vienna 1862–1918 Vienna)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment
The majority of the numerous preliminary studies for the painting Death and Life, which Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) initially worked on in 1910/11 and significantly changed in 1915, date back to 1908 and 1909. In these studies, Klimt played with the multifacetedness of the group of figures representing life by creating various motifs loosely associated with the executed painting. Most of the extant studies, two of which are kept at the Leopold Museum, concern the painting’s female figure, bending forward and supported by a man, at the bottom of the pyramid symbolizing life. While the style of drawing, made up of short strokes, is at first reminiscent of Klimt’s very late drawings, it is largely owed here to the technique of pen and ink drawing rarely employed by Klimt. Despite its erratic-looking outlines, the present work aptly conveys the sense of heavy melancholy which is generally typical of Klimt’s studies for Death and Life. This pushes the erotic effect entirely into the background.

Object data

  • Gustav Klimt
Seated Female Nude, Her Head Resting on Her Right Knee. Study for Death and Life
Art movement
Art Nouveau, Symbolism
Graphic work
India ink (pen) on Japanese paper
56.6×37.4 cm
Stamp (faded) lower left: GUSTAV KLIMT NACHLASS; designated lower right: H
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 1304
Inventory access
Contributed to the Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung in 1994
Selection of Reference works
  • Gustav Klimt. Die Sammlung im Leopold Museum, hrsg. von Tobias G. Natter/Elisabeth Leopold, Ostfildern 2013 (Bestandskatalog des Leopold Museum: Band 1).
  • Alice Strobl: Gustav Klimt. Die Zeichnungen 1912-1918, Salzburg 1984.
Catalogue raisonne
  • Strobl Bd. 2/1982: 1852

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Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Nachlass Gustav Klimt, Wien (1918); (1)
Helene Donner, Wien (o.D.);
Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Wien (1957-1994); (2)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (1994).

  1. Nachlass-Stempel »GUSTAV / KLIMT / NACHLASS« vorne links unten
  2. Sonja Niederacher, Gustav Klimt. 26 Zeichnungen aus dem Eigentum von Helene Donner, Dossier vom 31.01.2018; Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Katalog zu: Gustav Klimt. 1862-1918. Zeichnungen, Gedächtnisausstellung 16. Oktober bis 16. Dezember 1962, Wien 1962, Nr. 150

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