Expert disputes origin rediscovered Klimt fresco

17 July 2012

An art expert disputes the origin of Trumpeting Putto, Gustav Klimt’s ceiling fresco that was rediscovered last week in Austria, saying it was more likely painted by his brother Ernst Klimt.

The ceiling fresco Trumpeting Putto is said to have once been part of the ceiling of Klimt's Vienna studio, where he lived with his brother Ernst between 1883 and 1892. In the late 1980s, after a lift was installed in the building, the fresco disappeared.

Art dealer Josef Renz said he was contacted last week by a man claiming to have found the lost fresco in his garage. According to Renz, the family was in need of money and had no knowledge of the importance of the painting. He said he was convinced of the authenticity of the painting and intends to have it restored and put up for auction in the autumn. He refused to say how much he had paid the owner for it.

But Alfred Weidinger, art historian, Klimt specialist and curator of the Belvedere museum in Vienna recognised the painting as an early, historicist work by Ernst Klimt, who died in 1892, 26 years before Gustav. "This work has been floating round since the 1960s, and repeatedly attempts have been made to have it recognised as one of Klimt's, especially in this, the 150th anniversary of his birth," he said. "But in research into the catalogue of paintings he produced, studies for this painting made by Ernst Klimt have been found."

Renz disputed Weidinger's opinion of the rediscovered painting, saying: "It's definitely not only by Ernst. In the worst case scenario, it's by both brothers" adding that the two often worked together in the early years.

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