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Gustav Klimt, 1862-1918, Water Serpents I, 1904-07
To commemorate 100 years since the death of Gustav Klimt we're delighted to have launched a collection of three stunning pocket squares. Water Serpents I, the first of two paintings by this name, does not differ much from the preliminary drawings Klimt used for reference, apart from the beautiful addition of the gold paint, and the green and gold-leaf thread entangled around the women's bodies. The unambiguous embrace of the models would likely have been unacceptable had it been presented as a straight portrait. However, by renaming the work and giving it an allegorical theme and by adding the fish-like serpent behind the bodies and adorning every surface with gold and pattern, Klimt was able to show the painting to Vienna without fear of censorship.
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Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and the leader of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d'art. In addition to the figurative works he is best known for, and which include allegories and portraits, he also painted stunning landscapes.
Early in his artistic career, he was a successful painter of architectural decorations and, as he developed a more personal style, his work was the subject of controversy that culminated when the paintings he completed around 1900 for the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna were criticized as pornographic. He subsequently accepted no more public commissions but achieved a new success with the paintings of his "golden phase", many of which include gold leaf.
Klimt was a master of symbolism and embedded allusions to sexuality and the human psyche in his rich, lavishly decorated figures and patterns. The messages—often of pleasure, sexual liberation, and human suffering— were thinly veiled. His bolder, more risqué pieces, depicting voluptuous nudes and entwined bodies, scandalized the Viennese elites. Even so, the city’s establishment still adored his work and frequently commissioned him to paint their portraits. His peers were similarly enthralled with his style, recognizing his groundbreaking injection of sexuality, atmosphere, and expression into figurative painting.
Vienna Secession - Klimt became one of the founding members and the president of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) movement in 1897. He remained with the Secession until 1908. The aims of this group were to provide exhibitions for unconventional young artists, to bring the works of some of the best known foreign artists to Vienna, and to publish its own magazine to showcase the work of its own members. The group had no manifesto as such and did not set out to encourage any particular style—Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists all coexisted. Their efforts were supported by the government and they were given a lease to erect an exhibition hall on public land. The group's symbol was Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of just causes, wisdom, and the arts—of whom Klimt painted his radical version in 1898.
The art of hand rolling pocket squares is a unique craft and truly makes each piece individual and unique. We feel that the precision and care taken by our skilled artisans gives each scarf its own unique character, finish and feel. To create the finest rolled hems, the edge of the silk or cotton pocket square must be softy turned over with a handheld needle and then small stitches are inserted approximately one half to one centimetre apart around the edge, creating a supple yet prominent border.
It’s absolutely the best way to finish a pocket square for a variety of reasons but the key ones are for both visual effect and structure. Rolling by hand is the only way to get a really nice clean plump finish on the edge and this gives a really nice depth to the edges. It’s a more expensive process than machine rolling but by using a machine you’re often left with a flat edge and you don’t get the same luxurious feel. On top of this, the rolled edges add a lot more structure to your pocket square.
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The Death of Major Peirson, 6th January 1781, John Singleton Copley, 1783, © Tate, London 2014 On this pocket square we’ve used a large oil painting by American artist John Singleton Copley that depicts the death of...