Goldfish, 1902 by Gustav Klimt

Klimt was so infuriated and exasperated by the hostile reaction to his Faculty Paintings (Philosophy, Medicine,and Jurisprudence) that he painted this mocking riposte. Although he originally called it 'To my Detractors', on the advice of his friends Klimt changed the title to Goldfish when he exhibited the work in the 1903 Secession exhibition. Despite the change of title, the Press were up in arms, perhaps unsurprisingly given that the smiling woman is undeniably and provocatively turning her bottom towards the viewer.

Animals crop up in Klimt's works rather often: there is a snake in Nuda Veritas, an octopus in Hope I and an ape in Beethoven Frieze, as well as numerous small birds and butterflies ornamenting many other works. Without doubt, these birds and beasts are not included at random - or Klimt would perhaps have painted some of his beloved cats - but to symbolize character and ideas.