“Portrait of a Lady” is home again: the stolen Klimt has been missing for twenty-three years

The world of art is experiencing a significant moment. On November 28, a live streaming conference announced a very important news not only for the city of Piacenza, but for both Italian and European culture. The Ricci Oddi art gallery of Piacenza has announced the return of Gustav Klimt’s work “Portrait of a Lady”, stolen twenty-three years ago. 

In 1925 the Austrian artist’s painting was purchased by the Italian collector Giuseppe Ricci Oddi, then in 1997 it was stolen from the gallery and only in December 2019 was found in a bag in the same art gallery where it was exhibited. A rather mysterious fact, almost like the painting itself. In 1996 the student Claudia Maga realized that under the “Portrait of a Lady” there was another painting that the artist tried to cover, after various researches and studies, it was discovered that actually the oil painting concealed another portrait entitled the “Portrait of a Girl”. But let’s try to understand, the numerous analyses attested that the “Portrait of a Girl”, which depicted a girl with a hat and a scarf, was painted in 1910 and two years later it was exhibited in Dresden, but between 1916 and 1917 Gustav Klimt modified it creating the work that today we all know with the name of “Portrait of a Lady”. 

The president of the art gallery Massimo Ferrari was honoured to show the return of the masterpiece “together with the many precious paintings where it has always been until 1997 and where it will remain”. This reappearance launched the Klimt Project which will last for two years, from 28 November 2020 to 11 October 2022. The four-stage program will start from the history of the painting and its recovery; during the second stage the link between Gustav Klimt and the other artists will be explained; then, the relationship between Italy and the Austrian artist will be discussed and the fourth and final part will celebrate the 160th birth anniversary of Gustav Klimt. 

During the live streaming, the art gallery president read the letter sent by Dario Franceschini, Minister for cultural heritage and activities and for tourism, who said: “This work, now placed in the main hall of the gallery that has just been renovated, is finally returned to his community and to Italy after twenty-three years. Unfortunately, this happens at a time when the measures adopted to contain the pandemic do not allow the opening of the places of culture, but the paintings finds its context in a museum that thus proves to be more alive than ever, despite the closure”. He then added: “When the citizens of Piacenza can return to visit the gallery, they will find it enriched by the reappearance of an extraordinary work of art. When a museum comes into possession of a stolen painting, it is a symbol of rebirth”. 

“Portrait of a Lady” is now exhibited in the main hall of the Ricci Oddi art gallery of Piacenza, protected by a special security case and enhanced by Davide Groppi lighting, is waiting to be admired again by the whole world. 

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