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University of Vienna Ceiling Paintings (Medicine), detail showing Hygieia

Gustav Klimt

University of Vienna Ceiling Paintings (Medicine), detail showing Hygieia

Gustav Klimt
  • Date: 1900 - 1907
  • Style: Art Nouveau (Modern)
  • Period: Golden phase
  • Genre: allegorical painting
  • Media: oil, canvas
  • Tag: allegories-and-symbols
  • Order Oil Painting
    reproduction

In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to paint the ceilings in the University of Vienna’s great hall. The commission included three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence. When Klimt presented them to the university upon completion, they were determined to be pornographic in nature, and filled with “perverted excess.” The university would not display them. Medicine was the second painting in the series, and depicted the river of life, and the continuity of life and death, and had no allusions to medicine or the science of healing. Because of this, he was attacked by critics, who pointed out that Vienna at the time was engaging in major medical advancements, and that the painting did not depict anything about either prevention or cure. In 1945, the paintings were destroyed in Germany by advancing forces, the only remaining portions being a photograph of a portion of Medicine, and certain drawings and preliminary sketches.

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