Gustav Klimt was recognised as a great artist of the Vienna Secession movement by 1894, when he was commissioned to paint three ceiling paintings for the Great Hall of the University of Vienna for their faculties of Philosophy, Jurisprudence and Medicine.
Unfortunately, the public reaction to the works was at best mixed. Klimt had painted a modern, Secessionist, symbolic picture rather than a historical allegory and there were fierce protests.
The row became so toxic (the works being described as 'pornographic') that Klimt decided he would only work through private relationships with patrons and collectors. One of his most important relationships was with the Zuckerkandl family.
Klimt initially became close to the anatomist Emil Zuckerkandl and his wife Berta. Emil's brother, Viktor had made himself wealthy as a very successful steel magnate, and was keen to collect and support new art works. He and his wife were members of the circle of intellectuals, writers and collectors that included luminaries such as Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer, August and Serena Lederer and Gustav Mahler
Zuckerkandl's interest in art was not limited to Klimt. He was a great patron of the architect and designer Josef Hoffmann, commissioning him to complete first the Purkersdorf Sanatorium, then the Palais Stoclet in Brussels (on Berta's suggestion).
These, created in a clean, logical and simple style are now considered pioneering works in modernism. Today, the latter building contains artworks including four by Klimt - but unfortunately is not regularly open to the public.
Hoffmann was greatly in favour of the idea that internal furnishings could be as of great artistic merit as paintings or sculpture, and his work was greatly praised by contemporary art critics.
As a result of his enthusiasm for and collection of Hoffmann' design, Zuckerkandl's name is linked with a large proportion of these, for example a series of carefully designed chairs now held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and works in glass are on show in New York's Museum of Modern Art.
But it was the commissioning and collecting of Klimt which probably had the greatest effect on the art world. Zuckerkandl built up one of the greatest collections of Klimt there has been, many of them acquired directly from the painter.