Canvas, Paint Brush, and Opera Glasses

Klimt_Birch Forest

Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest, 1903. Oil on canvas, 42 1/4 x 42 1/4 in. Paul G. Allen Family Collection

On view in Seeing Nature, Birch Forest is one of many scenes Gustav Klimt painted at the Attersee, a lake near Salzburg where he often spent his summers beginning in 1900.

Klimt frequently used a telescope or opera glasses when composing his landscapes; these devices allowed him to see in great detail while at the same time collapsing the middle distance. The flatness of the resulting close-up perspective gives the surface of the canvas the appearance of a densely knotted tapestry. As in many of the artist’s other landscapes, a hushed reverence pervades the painting, infusing the simple forest with a sense of the sacred.

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