For the first time in its history, the MFA will exhibit a painting by Gustav Klimt—among the most important artists of the early 20th century.

Adam and Eve (1917–18) will be on loan from the Belvedere Museum in Vienna as part of the MFA’s Visiting Masterpiece series, giving visitors a taste of the artist’s signature style, including his sensuous approach to the nude, his bold experiments with pattern, color, and finish, and his exploration of human consciousness and desire. The work will be juxtaposed with the MFA’s life-sized study of a nude couple, Two Nudes (Lovers) (1913), painted by Klimt’s Viennese friend and colleague, Oskar Kokoschka. No more than five years separate the two paintings, which share many features—ambitious scale, daring experiments with form and finish, and, above all, a fascination with sexuality. Each is, in its own way, a product of Freud’s Vienna, but also of a singular artist with a singular vision.

Above: Gustav Klimt, Adam and Eve (detail), 1917–18. Oil on canvas. Belvedere, Vienna. © Belvedere, Vienna.