Gustav Klimt’s final painting, “Lady with a Fan,” has made history as the most valuable artwork ever sold at auction in Europe. The remarkable piece fetched £85.3m ($108.4m) during a fierce bidding war at Sotheby’s, with a Hong Kong collector emerging as the victorious buyer.
A Historic Auction for European Art
“Lady with a Fan” holds significant artistic and cultural significance. The painting exceeded expectations by soaring past its £65m estimate within a brief 10-minute auction. With its strong Asian influences and incorporation of Chinese motifs, such as the phoenix and lotus blossoms, this artwork is mesmerizing. The painting is part of the trend of Japaneseism – the influence of Japanese art and design on Western European artists.
Described as a “masterpiece by an artist at the height of his powers,” the portrait shows the unnamed woman’s allure and grace. Helena Newman, chair of Sotheby’s Europe and worldwide head of impressionist and modern art, emphasizes the exceptional nature of “Dame mit Fächer,” praising its technical features and boundary-pushing experimentation. This painting is not only a testament to Klimt’s skill but also a heartfelt tribute to absolute beauty.
Renowned for his gold-leaf-encrusted canvases like “The Kiss” and “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” Klimt was a prominent figure in the Vienna Secession art movement. “Lady with a Fan” holds a special place among his portraits as one of the few privately-owned pieces. Previously sold in 1994 for $11.6m (£9m), it has now achieved unprecedented recognition and secured its position as a symbol of artistic brilliance and historical value.
The auction’s groundbreaking success not only highlights the enduring appeal of Klimt’s work but also demonstrates the continued value of European art on the global stage. “Lady with a Fan” leaves an indelible mark on the art world, serving as a testament to Klimt’s legacy and the power of artistic expression.