Impressionist landscapes are not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of him Gustav Klimt, but the rare landscape of ‘Insel im Attersee’ (1902) came from a private collection in New York. The rare work will be auctioned on May 16 by the auction house Sotheby’s, with a price that will reach 45 million dollars.

Klimt was – to a great extent – influenced by nature and spent his summers in the Austrian and Italian countryside. He was often seen with his life partner, the Austrian fashion designer Emilie Flege, and her family at their home on Lake Attersee.

In 1900, Klimt began outdoor explorations of the lake, with a particular appreciation for the alternating iridescence of the water. Her first depiction – a misty painting with cool color tones – belongs to the Leopold Museum. In the painting “Insel im Attersee”, the painter expanded his color palette to capture the reflection of sunlight.

The painting gained prominence when Klimt’s gallerist, the Austrian art historian Otto Kaller, included it in one of his first exhibitions, “Saved From Europe,” after he opened the Galerie St. Etienne, in New York in 1939. Callir moved from Austria to Lucerne, then Paris and finally New York between 1938 and 1939 because of the Nazi regime, saving as many works as he could by artists such as Klimt, Egon Schiele and Alfred Kubin.

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