Gustav Klimt was born to his parents Ernst and Anna Klimt on July 14, 1862. His parents were not wealthy but cared for their children, of which Gustav was the second. When he was 14 Gustav was awarded a scholarship to a well-known art school in Vienna. He would continue his studies there until he was 21. His parents had always assumed that Gustav would come out of the school and become a great art teacher, but lucky for Gustav, his art teacher saw that he had a lot of talent and could be so much more than a teacher.
Klimt attended the school with his older brother, where they met a friend and future business partner, Franz Matsch. The three young men would secure their first job together in 1880, which entailed painting ceilings and decorating in Vienna Karlsbad and Reichbenberg for about three years.
The three men move to their first atelier in 1883. They continued work in the Bukarester theater, but they also designed the ceiling in the Empress Elisabeth mansion. The three also works on the castle theater in Vienna, while Gustav concentrated on a large painting at the jobsite. When they finished the large work of art at the theater, the three men received “Verdienstkreutz fuer Kunst” from the Emperor.
After this work, Gustav felt he needed a break and decided to travel to take in new things and come up with new ideas. He traveled through Europe, visiting Venice and Munich in 1889. From 1890 until 1900 Gustav was in search of a new style, which took him away from a traditional style of painting.
Gustav would become a member of the “Genossenschaft bildender Kunste Wiens”, which was an organization for building art in Vienna. Being a member of this organization allowed for him to take the leap from the old way of doing art to a new way of doing art. In 1891 Gustav met the love of his life Emilie Floge. It has been noted that they had a very close and loving relationship, though it is also known that Klimt was a ladies man and fathered many illegitimate children with his models.
In December of 1892, Gustav suffered the loss of his brother, which caused the break up with the Match family in an effort to find his own style. Yet, in 1894 Match and Klimt worked together to create sketches for the ceiling decoration for the Aula Magma at the University of Vienna. While he was working, Gustav studied philosophy, medicine, and jurisprudence, although he would quit the job when his presentation of philosophy and medicine came under harsh criticism.
In 1897 Klimt worked with others to create a group that they could call Secession, and Klimt would become the group’s first president. The group was formed to seek freedom of art, which would be independent of the government. The group purchased a newspaper known as the Versacum. Klimt was passionate about the group and what they represented due to the harsh criticism that he received on his last works.