The Kiss (Lovers) by Gustav Klimt is the most famous Austrian painting and the highlight of the permanent collection at the Upper Belvedere. It shows a couple swathed in richly embellished robes embracing in a meadow of flowers on the brink of a precipice. The painting dates from 1907/08 at the height of Klimt’s “Golden Period” when the artist developed a new technique of combining gold leaf with oils and bronze paint.
In this early-twentieth-work Klimt was making a general allegorical statement about love being at the heart of human existence. The fact that the painting still retains its immediacy and emotional impact is a testimony to the artist’s extraordinary achievement. The lovers’ garments are adorned with gold leaf and the background, too, is suffused with delicate gold, silver, and even platinum flakes. The Austrian state purchased the Kiss for the recently founded Moderne Galerie, which was housed at the Lower Belvedere, from its first exhibition in 1908. The painting has been in the Belvedere’s collections ever since.