Although Gustav Klimt is best known for his glimmering portraits of Viennese high society, his oeuvre also includes approximately 50 known landscapes. A vast majority of these (more than 45, in fact) were painted along Lake Attersee, his summer retreat for more than 15 years. “It is terrible, awful here in Vienna,” Klimt once complained to a friend. “Everything parched, hot, dreadful, all this work on top of it, the ‘bustle’—I long to be gone like never before.” So, in the tradition of sommerfrische—established in the 19th century by Habsburg emperors taking advantage of a newly constructed railway system—the artist traded the sweltering city for the lake-filled Austrian countryside.
There, he donned flowing, floor-length robes and spent his days trekking through the foothills or rowing on the lake. The locals dubbed him “Wood Goblin,” chuckling as he towed his painting supplies from one landscape to the next.