Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1862, Klimt was the son of a gold engraver and was raised in a modest but very artistic family. At the age of 14, he left the traditional education system to attend the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts on a full scholarship. Klimt's formal training focused on classical architectural painting.
Soon after graduating in 1883, Klimt opened the Company of Artists together with his younger brother Ernst and his friend Franz Masch. The group focuses on creating wall paintings in the academic style and has sought to cater to the tastes of the upper class. During the seven years they spent together, the Company of Artists painted murals for the Burgtheater in Vienna and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, for which they are still known today.
The year 1891 marked a turning point in Klimt's career, guided by artistic growth born of personal tragedy. In the same year, Klimt's father and brother Ernst passed away, triggering the first steps in the development of the personal style for which Klimt is now best known. Klimt became famous for his Art Nouveau style works, characterized by highly stylized motifs and the erotic and controversial nature of his subjects. Beginning with his painting of Pallas Athena, Klimt entered what is today called his "golden phase", a series of paintings which are characterized by an intensive use of gold leaf and a sense of reduced perspective, which also includes his paintings "The Kiss" (1908) and "The Tree of Life" (1909). These sparkling masterpieces are among the artist's most recognizable and famous works of art.