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Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt was born in 1862 in Vieanna, Austuria and received training as an architectural painter. Following his graduation, he began working together with his brother Ernst and their friend Franz Matsch, painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings as a team that they called the "Company of Artists”. Their success won them numerous commissions to paint churches, theaters and other public spaces. In 1890, the team joined the Vienna Artists’ Association as founding members.

In 1892 both Gustav Klimt's father and brother Ernst died. Profoundly affected by their passing, Klimt has soon veered towards a new personal style. In 1894 he was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. Named Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence, these were deeply criticized which ultimately resulted in a petition urging that they not be installed at the school. This would be the last public commission accepted by the artist yet despite its rejection in Vienna, his Medicine was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris and received the Grand Prix in 1900. All three paintings were eventually destroyed by retreating NAZI forces.

Klimt was honored for his achievements and received the Emperor’s Golden Order of Merit for his contributions to art. He became one of the founding members and president of the Vienna Secession in 1897, remained with the group that was mainly objecting to the prevailing conservatism and traditional orientation toward Historicism until 1908. Between 1905-1911 Klimt worked with his architect friend Josef Hoffman decorating three walls of the Stoclet Palace with his well known work, the Tree of Life, which later became one of the grandest monuments of the Art Nouveau era. Traveling and enrolling in many exhibitions and bienals, in 1911 his painting Death and Life received first prize in the world exhibitions in Rome. 

Klimt died in Vienna, in 1918, having suffered a stroke and pneumonia.