Gustav Klimt was born 14 July 1862, in Baumgarten, Austria. He was the son of Anna Finster and Ernst Klimt. He had two brothers and four sisters. His father worked as a gold and silver engraver. In 1876, he attended the Wien Public Art School. In 1882, Klimt opened a studio with his brother, Ernst Klimt and Franz Matsch. From 1886 to 1892, Klimt made mural decorations for the staircases at the Burgtheater, in Vienna and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. In 1888, Klimt received the Golden order of Merit from Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria (1830-1916).
"Even when I have to write a simple letter I'm scared stiff as if faced with looming seasickness."In 1891, Klimt became a member of the Co-operative Society of Austrian Artists. Both his father, Ernst Klimt and brother, Ernst Klimt died in 1892. In 1893, Klimt and Franz Matsch were commissioned to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Wien. In 1897, Klimt founded with other artists the Wien Secession. In 1898, he painted Portrait of Helene Klimt and portrait of Sonja Knips. From 1898 to 1903, he was an illustrator for the magazine Ver Sacrum.
"Although even when I am being idle I have plenty of food for thought both early and late - thoughts both about and not about art."From 1900 to 1903, Klimt worked on a commission for a series of ceiling murals for the Wien University. In 1901, he painted Judith. In 1902, he finished the Beethoven Frieze for the 14th Wien Secessionist exhibition.
"All art is erotic."In 1902, he painted the designer Emilie Flöge (30 August 1874 - 26 May 1952). She became his lover and companion. Interested in fashion, Klimt also designed costumes and jewelry. In 1903, he traveled to Ravenna and Florence. In 1904, he collaborated with other artists on the Palais Stoclet. Also in 1904, he painted Water Snakes. About his day he said, "After tea it's back to painting - a large poplar at dusk with a gathering storm. From time to time instead of this evening painting session I go bowling in one of the neighbouring villages, but not very often." And, "If the weather is good I go into the nearby wood - there I am painting a small beech forest (in the sun) with a few conifers mixed in. This takes until 8 'o clock."
"Sometimes I miss out the morning's painting session and instead study my Japanese books in the open."
"True relaxation, which would do me the world of good, does not exist for me." Gustav Klimt