The Kiss (Lovers) was painted by the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt
between 1908 and 1909, the highpoint of his "Golden Period", when he painted a number of works in a
similar gilded style. A perfect square, the canvas depicts a couple embracing, their bodies
entwined in elaborate robes decorated in a style influenced by both linear constructs of the
contemporary Art Nouveau style and the organic forms of the earlier Arts and Crafts movement. The
work is composed of oil paint with applied layers of gold leaf, an aspect that gives it its
strikingly modern, yet evocative appearance. The painting is now in the Österreichische Galerie
Belvedere museum in the Belvedere palace, Vienna, and is widely considered a masterpiece of the
early modern period. It is a symbol of Vienna Jugendstil—Viennese Art Nouveau—and is considered
Klimt's most popular work.
Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist
painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for
his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d'art. Klimt's primary subject was the female
body and his works are marked by a frank eroticism. In addition to his figurative works, which
include allegories and portraits, he painted landscapes. Among the artists of the Vienna Secession,
Klimt was the most influenced by Japanese art and its methods.
Early in his artistic career, he was a successful painter of architectural
decorations in a conventional manner. 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's work was an important influence on his younger
contemporary Egon Schiele.