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Rare Klimt sketches due to go under the hammer

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 01:50

Auction house Bonhams is marking the 150th birthday of Gustav Klimt with the sale of a series of intimate sketches by the Austrian artist. Kathi Urban reports.

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One of Austria's most prolific painters of the 20th century - Gustav Klimt's work mainly concerned decorative, erotic studies of the female body, the most famous being "The Kiss" (1907-08). Now three intimate sketches, which have played an important role in the development of the artist's body of work, are due to go under the hammer later today (October 30). The drawings were purchased by Dr. Hyman Goldberg, a South African art collector, in 1982 and have now returned into the public eye for the first time. The top lot is estimated to reach between 30,000GBP-50,000GBP (48,000USD-81,000USD). Apart from being a testament to Klimt's artistic skills, the sketches also demonstrate his understanding of the changing role of women in society, according to Ruth Graham, Impressionist and Modern Art specialist at auction house Bonhams. SOUNDBITE: Ruth Graham, Bonhams specialist of Impressionist and Modern Art sales, saying (English): "Klimt was known to have affairs with many of the models that pose for these sketches. But the one in the middle here, the reclining nude with the sleeping baby is particularly interesting because she is not as anonymous as his models tended to be, because she has the baby tucked in her arms protectively, she is no longer an anonymous sexual object. She becomes a mother, she is very protective of her child ... and it's quite symptomatic of the time when Klimt was look at women, are they just objects or are they actually mothers and do they have further identities." While the three drawings have spent the last few decades in the hands of one collector, they could eventually go their separate ways following today's auction. SOUNDBITE: Ruth Graham, Bonhams specialist of Impressionist and Modern Art sales, saying (English): "Nature of an auction means that it can go to disparate buyers. We had very much a great deal of interest in the two works at the side together so we're hoping that they might go together as a pair. But the main lot because it stands out as such an iconic piece, it might be sold separately." The Goldberg Collection, whose estimated worth stands at 250,000 - 300,000 British pounds, according to Graham, also features drawings, paintings and sculptures by artists including Dali and Picasso.

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Rare Klimt sketches due to go under the hammer

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 01:50