Mäda Primavesi (1903-2000), 1912-13. Gustav Klimt. Oil on canvas. Gift of André and Clara Mertens, in memory of her mother, Jenny Pulitzer Steiner, 1964.
Mäda Primavesi’s expression and posture convey a remarkable degree of confidence for a nine-year-old girl, even one who was, by her own account, willful and a tomboy. Klimt made numerous preliminary sketches for this portrait, experimenting with different poses, outfits, and backgrounds before deciding to show Mäda standing tall in a specially-made dress amid a profusion of springlike patterns. The picture testifies to the sophisticated taste of her parents, banker and industrialist Otto Primavesi and his wife Eugenia, who were ardent supporters of progressive Viennese art and design.