An insider’s guide: A rare Klimt exhibition in Rome

Rocco Forte Hotels

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to gather any works by Klimt since museums become more and more reluctant to lend their masterpieces,” explains curator Franz Smola, from the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. “Who knows whether and when there will be another Klimt-retrospective in Rome?”

One of the most eagerly awaited shows of 2022, the Museum of Rome will host Klimt: The Succession and Italy until Sunday 27th March 2022 in Palazzo Braschi, to the south of Navona Square. Step inside for a rare chance to see works by Klimt including his 1917 oil painting Portrait of a Lady, which was stolen from the Ricci Oddi Modern Art gallery in Piacenza in the north of Italy in 1997 and only recently recovered in 2020 when gardeners found it in one of the gallery’s external walls while cleaning away ivy. Below, enjoy an insider’s guide to the exhibition, to help you get the most out of your visit.

Who was Gustav Klimt?

Gustav Klimt was born in 1862 in Baumgarten to the west of Vienna to a poor goldsmith’s family. Klimt became a master of symbolism, known for painting feminine beauty and eroticism. He was a central figure in Vienna’s Art Nouveau movement and is now regarded as one of the 20th century’s most radical artists.

His most famous work, The Kiss (1907-08), is an oil painting with gold leaf, silver and platinum that depicts two lovers embracing. It has been used to adorn everything from coffee mugs to keyrings and visitors from around the world flock to Belvedere in Vienna to catch a mere glimpse of it. Many experts believe it is a portrait of the artist with his partner, the Austrian fashion designer Emilie Louise Flöge. 

The Kiss represents the pinnacle of Klimt’s so-called golden phase, a decade-long period when he was most successful in the early 1900s. His earliest work from this period is considered to be Pallas Athene, which depicts the Greek goddess Athena in armour topped with golden touches. Another well-known piece from this period is Judith and the Head of Holofernes, which is set against an elaborate gold background. It depicts the biblical figure Judith after she slayed the invader Holofernes.


Portrait of a Lady

Portrait of a Lady depicts a woman set against a textured moss background, sensuously glancing sideways. It is believed to depict Klimt’s lover and is one of his many portraits of muses and paramours.

The Italian art patron Giuseppe Ricci Odi bought the painting in 1925. Ten months before the painting was stolen, experts discovered that Klimt had painted over an earlier work. 

The piece is currently owned by Ricci Oddi, a modern art gallery in Piacenza in the north of Italy, although it has been loaned to the Museum of Rome. It is known as the “most famous stolen painting in the world.”

Other exhibition highlights

The exhibition will also showcase rare drawings, sketches of semi-naked women and The Bride, – a bride lost in a sensual dream – which Klimt created in the months leading up to his death in 1918. You can also see the preparatory sketches Klimt made for this artwork as well as a drawing that portrays his mother, Anna Klimt. 

The exhibition also delves into the influence Italy had on Klimt’s art, through postcards he sent from Venice and Padua among other regions of the country, in which he described the splendid Byzantine mosaics he saw in Ravenna. 

“Our aim was to create an exhibition which is made especially for this place and this time, focussing on Klimt’s relationship to Italy” explains curator Franz Smola.


More exhibitions to look out for include:

A few steps from the hotel, within the Gagosian Gallery of Contemporary Art, visitors can admire the Future Present exhibit by celebrated artist, Sterling Ruby. On view is a selection of new sculptures, ceramics, paintings, drawings, collages, videos and textiles, in which the artist reflects on the theme of pollution and the inevitable race towards ecological collapse. In addition, a special installation by Ruby will be visible at the Doria Pamphilj Gallery in Via del Corso, from November 20th to December 9th. FUTURE PRESENT – Through 5th February 2022

From the city center, guests can stroll towards the Lungotevere to reach the famous MAXXI Museum designed by Zaha Hadid, which opens its doors to Amazônia, an exhibition by the internationally renowned photographer, Sebastião Salgado,  curated by  his wife,  Lélia  Wanick  Salgado. Over two hundred photos combine in a visual journey of one of the most fascinating corners of the planet, the Amazon, shot through the eyes of the Brazilian photographer. The photographs are accompanied by a soundtrack of background noise created by Jean-Michel Jarre, representing landscapes and portraits of the indigenous people who inhabit these incredible places, testifying to the effects of climate change on the landscape. SEBASTIÃO SALGADO AMAZÔNIAThrough 13th February 2022

​​Seize the chance to see Klimt’s long-lost painting at the Museum of Rome, which is just a 15-minute taxi ride away from Hotel de la Ville.


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