Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1862, Klimt was the son of a gold engraver and was raised in a modest but highly artistic family. At the age of 14, he left the traditional educational system to attend the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts on a full scholarship. Klimt's formal training focused on classical architectural painting.
Shortly after graduating in 1883, Klimt opened ''The Artists' Company'' together with his younger brother Ernst and his friend Franz Masch. The group focused on creating murals in an academic style and sought to cater to the tastes of the upper class. During their seven years together, The Artists' Company 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 an artistic growth born of personal tragedy. In the same year, Klimt's father and brother Ernst died 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. Starting with his painting of Pallas Athena, Klimt entered what is now known as his "golden phase", a series of paintings that are characterised by an intensive use of gold leaf and a reduced sense of perspective, which also includes his paintings "The Kiss" (1908) and "The Tree of Life" (1909). These glittering masterpieces are among the artist's most recognisable and celebrated works of art.