Israel Museum Acquires Rare Klimt

The composition was a study of a massive oil painting commissioned for but rejected by the University of Vienna and later destroyed by the Nazis.

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Screenshot of "Medicine (concept)" by Gustav Klimt.

Jerusalem’s Israel Museum has purchased a rare oil painting by Gustav Klimt, which is a study of a massive painting that the Nazis destroyed in 1945, according to website Artnet News.

The painting, "Die Medizin (Kompositionsentwurf)" – known in English as "Medicine (Concept)" – was part of a series of controversial paintings Austria's Ministry of Culture and Education commissioned Klimt to produce for the ceiling of the Great Hall at the University of Vienna.

He worked on the enormous study between 1897 and 1898.

According to the Klimt Museum, "Klimt came under attack for 'pornography' and 'perverted' excess" when he presented his trilogy of "Philosophy," "Medicine" and "Jurisprudence." The university never displayed the paintings, and retreating Nazi forces destroyed the originals in May 1945.

The Israel Museum acquired the work from the descendants of Hermann Wittgenstein, whose family were important supporters of Klimt and other Secessionist artists. The museum owns several works on paper by the artist, but no oil paintings by Klimt, according to Artnet.