Gustav Klimt. Hope, II. 1907-08
Gustav Klimt

Hope, II

1907-08
On view
Medium
Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas
Dimensions
43 1/2 x 43 1/2" (110.5 x 110.5 cm)
Credit
Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder and Helen Acheson Funds, and Serge Sabarsky
Object number
468.1978
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Although images of women and children are frequent in the history of art, depictions of pregnancy are rare. In Hope, II a woman with a skull nestled into her gown lowers her head toward her swelling belly. Below, three women also bow their heads—in prayer or possibly mourning. The ornate decoration in Hope, II nearly overwhelms its surface. Klimt was committed to craftwork, and was among the many artists of his time who combined archaic traditions—here Byzantine gold leaf painting—with a modern psychological subject. Klimt lived and worked in turn-of-the-century Vienna, home to Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis; Klimt's exploration of formative drives like sex and death parallel Freud's explorations of the psyche.

Gallery label from 2009

Additional text

A pregnant woman bows her head and closes her eyes, as if praying for the safety of her child. Peeping out from behind her stomach is a death's head, sign of the danger she faces. At her feet, three women with bowed heads raise their hands, presumably also in prayer—although their solemnity might also imply mourning, as if they foresaw the child's fate.

Why, then, the painting's title? Although Klimt himself called this work Vision, he had called an earlier, related painting of a pregnant woman Hope. By association with the earlier work, this one has become known as Hope, II. There is, however, a richness here to balance the women's gravity.

Klimt was among the many artists of his time who were inspired by sources not only within Europe but far beyond it. He lived in Vienna, a crossroads of East and West, and he drew on such sources as Byzantine art, Mycenean metalwork, Persian rugs and miniatures, the mosaics of the Ravenna churches, and Japanese screens. In this painting the woman's gold-patterned robe—drawn flat, as clothes are in Russian icons, although her skin is rounded and dimensional—has an extraordinary decorative beauty. Here, birth, death, and the sensuality of the living exist side by side suspended in equilibrium.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 54

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Vienna. Until 1914
Eugenia Primavesi. Acquired by December 1914
Neue Galerie (Dr. Otto Kallir), Vienna. [Either sold by Dr. Kallir in 1937, or thereafter by Ms. Vita Künstler, to whom he transferred ownership of the Neue Galerie in 1938]
Private Collection. By 1964
Private Collection, Vienna. By 1969 / by 1975
Dr. Hans Barnas, Vienna. By 1977
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired from Mr. Barnas, through Galerie Beyeler, Basel, June 13, 1978

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource