I have just watched the movie, “Woman in Gold”. I remember seeing the gap on the wall in the Belvedere when I visited it, which led me to read up on how it got to the USA.

The film may be refelcting the truth in depicting the motives of Maria Altman as requiring an act of contrition by the Austrian state for the crimes committed by the Nazis, the Austrian State and Viennese people in the thirties, compounded by the heavy handed reaction of the Austrian Ministry of Culture.

The depiction of the anschluss and the victimisation of the Viennese Jews is powerful and made me think of the growth of casual racism in the UK; we always need to be on guard. Would I have joined in? (Apart from being a designated victim that is.)

The film starts with the anschluss and so the true ownership of the pictures is unclear and becomes part of the story. (A crucial part of the case is that the pictures were owned by Adele Bloch Baur’s husband and not by Klimt nor by Adele.) Also due to the story’s start point, the question of the full relationship between the artist, his muse and her husband is not explored. There is no doubt that the pictures were stolen by the Nazis during the 2nd World War. The film neglects to state that the post-war peace treaties made Austria a victim state. I was also surprised to discover that it was an Austrian arbitration panel that finally awarded the pictures to Maria Altman.

The film finishes with a scene between the young Maria and her uncle and aunt where they entreat her to remember them. I took the opportunity to remember mine.


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