One of the columns I most enjoy is Mary Killen’s in The Spectator.
She advises on the sort of problem that anguish the haute bourgeoisie but younger readers would not understand at all. It’s usually some breach of social etiquette that makes the Spectator reader seek her counsel.
This week, however, the problem was more unusual. The reader in question was doing a jigsaw of a painting by Peter Breughel when she lost a key piece.
With yet more gales predicted – and everyone in fear of coronavirus – it struck me that a jigsaw of a painting was just the job to get me through the weekend at home.
The jigsaw picture I chose was The Virgin by Gustav Klimt, a typical Klimt picture in gold leaf of swirling, horizontal bodies.
Artists tend to have a favoutire colour: J.W. Turner was nicknamed “pass the mustard” by his fellow students for his love of yellow, Graham Sutherland favoured green, Francis Bacon red and Klimt gold.
I rapidly discovered that ubiquitous gold is not the easiest colour for a jigsaw. Indeed the whole undertaking was a massive one.
It took a good two hours to select the pieces for the border. When I looked at my Taschen published works of Klimt for a clearer picture, I saw the jigsaw image was an inset, they obviously decided the outstretched naked leg was not suitable for jigsaw puzzlers.
I was close to admitting defeat with more pieces strewn over my table than assembled in the border which was about 80% completed.
However I will keep at it if only to see the final picture.
Painted in 1913 it is most representative of Klimt’s journey from court painter to Habsburg Emperor Frank Josef to the Secessionist movement.
His erotic paintings carried little appeal and less custom from the Viennese in his lifetime but in the sexual reawakening of the 1960s soared in value.
However it was his portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer which was confiscated by the Nazis and after a legal action restored to the subject’s niece by the Austrian State Gallery which fetched £101m in 2006.