The influence of Egyptian art on Klimt is undoubtedly at work in this portrait of the wife of the industrialist Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. He twice commissioned Klimt to paint a portrait of Adele. This painting, made at the height of Klimt's career, prompted critics to coin the phrase 'Mehr Blech wie Bloch', a pun meaning more brass (i.e., money) than Bloch.
The portrait is notable for the mix of naturalism, in the painting of the face and hands, and the ornamental decoration used for the dress, chair and background. Like Judith and the Head of Holofernes, the way in which the decoration cuts across the shoulders and forearms creates an impression of mutilation. Since Adele, the subject of both of these works, was one of Klimt's mistresses, it is difficult not to look for a psychological reason for the disjointing of the head and body.
Adele Bloch-Bauer possesses the rare distinction as the only person Klimt ever painted twice. In 2006, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, was purchased for the Neue Galerie in New York by Ronald Lauder for a reported US $135 million, surpassing Picasso's 1905 Boy With a Pipe (sold May 5, 2004 for $104 million), as the highest reported price ever paid for a painting.