Lady with Hat and Feather Boa, 1909 by Gustav Klimt

Klimt produced a few paintings of unidentified women. These were not commissioned works, or else they would have been called 'Portrait of and they are invariably simpler in style. Beautiful women are clad in big hats and feather boas, often wearing furs and muffs. These paintings and sketches probably provided a welcome respite for Klimt. Freed from the need to portray his sitter as a lady of society, with attendant opulence and implied status, he could paint in a looser, brushier style. This work and The Black Feathered Hat also show Klimt experimenting with soft shades of black - a tone he rarely used in other works.

In both these works Klimt has suggested the sensuality of the women by subtly drawing attention towards their mouths. In Lady with Hat and Feather Boa, the boa rides just under her upper lip, while the women in the drawing fingers her mouth in a pensive manner. The red-pink of her hair and lips and the more muted tones of her fingers and cheeks stand out against the predominantly black and white background.

Emilie Floge's fashion salon may well have been the source for these images. Certainly, contemporary photographs of Viennese women prove his sitters to have been at the height of fashion.