As we have mentioned in previous posts, the year 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Klimt. The Austrian Symbolist painter’s birthday is being celebrated by a year of exhibitions, events and festivities throughout Austria, but focused on its capital Vienna. Along with exhibitions of his work throughout the year at some of the city’s most famous museums and galleries, there will be something of an artistic renaissance for the Austrian art scene, with other famous Austrian artists as well as contemporary Austrian artists, sharing the spotlight.

Well, one very appropriate tribute to Klimt and his work is due to be issued on January 25th in Vienna – The Austrian Mint is producing a new series of five golden coins celebrating the life of the Art Nouveau master, the first of which will be unveiled next week. Of course, it isn’t the first time that Klimt’s image has been immortalised in gold. Back in 2003 an image of Klimt in his studio with two unfinished canvases resting on easels was shown on the obverse of a €100 Painting Gold Coin. Klimt’s Golden Phase was the most successful period of his illustrious career, both artistically and commercially, and we are sure that the idea of his image being emblazoned on a valuable solid gold coin would have appealed to him.

So what are these new coins all about then? Well, the series of five coins that the Austrian Mint will produce has been titled the Klimt And His Women Gold Coin Series, and the special edition collectible coinage will be released once a year until 2016. The first coin that will be issued will be struck in 0.986 fine gold to proof quality and is 22 millimetres in diameter, weighing in at 10 grams. The face value of the coin will be €50 (although it is likely to cost considerably more) – each coin will be packaged inside a gift box with a numbered certificate of authenticity (six pages in length!) and a maximum mintage of 30,000 has been authorised.

The obverse of the coin has been engraved by Thomas Pesendorfer and includes a portrait of Klimt that is based on a photograph by Moriz Naehr from 1917-1918. Klimt’s signature is shown in the bottom right, and the text around the picture reads Republik Oesterreich (Austrian Republic), along with the coin’s 50 Euro valuation and the date 2012. The reverse of the coin was engraved by Herbert Waehner and shows a portion of Klimt’s 1907 oil painting Portrait Of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Focusing on her face and neck, the engraving also features some of the background design from the painting along with a K for Klimt. The price for one of the Klimt And His Women Gold Coin Series hasn’t been released as yet, but other €50 gold coins that the Austrian Mint currently sells retail for around €500 ($650). Definitely not for spending.