Starting back in 2012, the Austrian Mint embarked on a new five-coin series featuring Gustav Klimt’s paintings, specifically from a particular phase of his career when women were the focus of his attention, called his “golden phase”. Titled Klimt and his Women, the 10g proof finish coins are exquisitely designed and closely tied with some of his most famous works.
The second coin in the series, The Expectation, was the recent winner of the 2015 Krause Publications coin of the year award. There’s usually quite a bit of debate over the winning coin being good enough to take the prize, but there’s been little dissent over this one, indicating that it’s seen to be a deserving choice.
This coin is based on the second of three paintings in his series, Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence, and was presented in March 1901 at the tenth Viennese Secession Exhibition. Criticised at the time for displaying an ambiguous unity of life and death, with nothing to celebrate the role of medicine or the science of healing, an editorial in the Medizinische Wochenschrift complained that the painter had ignored doctors’ two main achievements, prevention and cure. Like the other two works in the series, it was destroyed in 1945 by retreating SS soldiers in what can only be described as outright artistic vandalism.
Struck in Proof quality with a maximum mintage of 30,000, each coin comes in a case complete with a numbered certificate of authenticity. A superb wooden presentation case is also available at €66 for those keen to complete the entire five-coin Klimt and his Women collection. Designed by Mag. Helmut Andexlinger and Herbert Wahner, the coin is shipping from the 15th April and sells for €450.00, up from last years €405.00, but down from the first two coins at €505.00 and €510.00.
Gustav Klimt was no stranger to controversy, but the outrage caused by his Faculty Paintings was even debated in the Austrian Parliament and became a political issue. The paintings were never actually used for their intended purpose as Klimt returned his fee and refused to deliver his artworks, which were eventually burnt by the Nazis at the end of the Second World War. A detail from Klimt’s Jurisprudence, in the form of the Eumenides, the Greek deities of vengeance, graces the coin’s obverse. Stylised snakes accentuate Klimt’s customary swirling patterns of the gorgon’s hair in the rectangular centre, while to the right stands the goddess of law. The reverse shows a detail from Medicine as Hygieia, daughter
of the Greek god of medicine, with the Aesculapian snake wound around her arm and the cup of Lethe in her hand. The letter M, the fourth letter in the word “Klimt”, appears at the foot of the coin.