It is one thing to admire a work of art, quite another to immerse yourself in the surroundings that led to its creation. The Klimt Villa makes the latter possible, helping you get so close to the person and artist that was Gustav Klimt that you can almost tweak his beard (inadvisable).
- The actual location of Klimt’s final studio, where he worked from 1911 to 1918
- The studio and waiting room have been lovingly reconstructed based on original photos
- See also: Klimt in Vienna
The villa’s history
The building housing the studio is not quite what you might expect: a neo-baroque two-storey house with broad stone steps and decorated iron balustrades. And all in pristine, orderly condition. Not a hint of gold leaf in sight.
The location looked quite different when Klimt rented it for use as a studio in 1911 – just a one storey, Biedermeier cottage on Feldmühlgasse with a large garden full of flowers and fruit trees.
The simplicity and relatively rural location (at the time) attracted Klimt in the first place. The ambience influenced his later works, which were often characterised by the colours and motifs he might have seen among the blooms and blossoms outside.
It was here, for example, that Klimt painted Adele Bloch-Bauer II, famously once owned by Oprah Winfrey. She subsequently sold it to a private buyer for a rumoured sum of around US$150 million, which makes the work one of the most expensive of all time.
(“Mäda Primavesi” painted by Klimt in 1912-13. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Just a day after Klimt’s death in 1918, the Fremden Blatt paper even headlined their report with the studio’s location: “The painter from the Feldmühlgasse”, and began the article with this description (my rough translation):
Feldmühlgasse in the 13th district. Few know of it, and fewer still know of the remote house tucked away behind the trees of a secluded garden in Unter St. Veit.
A few years after Klimt’s passing, the owners added an upstairs to the villa and redecorated. Although the exterior changed considerably, the interior layout of the lower floor remained largely untouched. In 1954, the house fell into public hands, eventually serving as a school building.
By the 1990s, the authorities seemed ready to sell off the location for development, declaring that the villa was not the one that housed Klimt’s studio.
It took some ten years to correct the error and we have the efforts of a private initiative to thank for ensuring the studio remains preserved, state-owned, and accessible to the public.
Inside the Klimt Villa
Inside is a mix of exhibition and reconstructions. English language information displays, reproductions of Klimt’s works, correspondence, and replicas offer insight into his life, art, clients, and models.
Perhaps the most impressive area is the main studio and reception room, both reconstructed to look exactly like the original rooms did, complete with discarded artist’s smock, splattered palette etc.
Both the rooms and their contents exactly match reference photos of Klimt’s occupancy, right down to the last dot of paint.
You can imagine yourself as the artist, looking for inspiration through the huge garden windows of the studio. Or stand in the reception room, with its oriental theme, and imagine receiving such guests as Arthur Schnitzler or Egon Schiele.
Much of the plants, colour and life that so characterized Klimt’s garden (and influenced his work) have gone, but you can still find, for example, old rose bushes undoubtedly once touched by the same hand that painted The Kiss.
Tickets & visitor tips
At the time of writing, an entrance ticket cost €10 for adults, with concessions.
How to get to the Klimt Villa
The villa is a short 5-6 min walk from the Unter St. Veit subway station on the U4 line. Tram line 10 and bus line 54b also run nearby (get off at the Verbindungsbahn stop and it’s a 2-3 min walk).
Address: Feldmühlgasse 11, 1130 Vienna | Website