Although much of Gustav Klimt's work is well recognized, his painting Hope II (1907-1908) has received little attention in academic studies. Rejected by his peers on its initial exhibition, this work was found offensive by even his staunchest supporters. Second wave feminists have also been critical of his painting, finding in it an objectification of women. This is likely due in part to the central subject of the piece involving pregnancy. Klimt was unafraid to paint images that shocked and diverged from traditional aesthetic styles. During a time of rapid social change and development of the feminist movement, Klimt offered fin-de-siècle Vienna an image that invited conversations about female sexuality, identity, and fertility. This paper constitutes a rereading of Klimt as empathetic to the female experience by way of a close analysis of Hope II. The artist's closeness to many women indicates his awareness of their plight. His portrayal of fertility in this painting offered a new perspective of womanhood in art with a depiction of woman as autonomous and empowered. Criticism from second-wave feminists often follows Klimt's work. However, his continued representation of the female body should be read as a glorification of the body rather than objectification of it.
College and Department
Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Miller, Hannah Elizabeth, "A Partner in Their Suffering: Gustav Klimt's Empowered Figure in Hope II" (2017). All Theses and Dissertations. 6429.
Gustav Klimt, Pregnancy, Feminism, Female Bodies, Vienna, Modern Art