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Chapter 47 Part 2 - The Mysterious Art Museum

A street artist's life changed when he ended up at a mysterious art museum. DBT,Korean,Novel,Translation,Art,Artist,Slice of life,Poor to Rich,Mystery

Ernst, seemingly intent on chain-smoking, takes another drag on his pipe and asks,

“What did Mr. Hans say?”


Klimt just smokes silently, not responding.

The smoke from the two men fills the air, eventually becoming as thick as that from a house fire.

Finally breaking the silence, Klimt speaks.

“Mr. Hans isn’t in good health. It wasn’t possible to even bring up the subject.”

“Does he seem very ill?”

“Yes, his condition has virtually paralyzed the business operations in this sector.”

I strained to remember the name mentioned in their conversation. Then it came to me.

‘Hans Makart!’

The famous Austrian painter.

Makart, twenty years Klimt's senior, was an idol of Klimt in his youth.

Makart’s decorative art, characterized by free compositions, vibrant colors, and ornate decorations in a Neo-Baroque style, played a leading role in Vienna’s Art Nouveau movement. He was also known for dominating Austria’s decorative arts scene.

I don't know him by face.

I only read about him during my college years.

‘In October 2016, one of his paintings, ‘An Allegory of Love,’ was auctioned for 130,000 euros at the Viennese auction house Im Kinsky.’

I found it curious at the time.

130,000 euros? Just about 180 million won.

It seemed too low compared to other famous paintings easily worth hundreds of billions of won.

Later, during an art history lesson, I understood why.

He dominated his era but did not surpass it, thus not reaching the status of a master painter.

What is considered progressive today was once deemed ludicrous.

Every artist bears the imprint of their time.

Great artists are those with the deepest imprints.

Hans Makart was commercially successful, but in terms of the imprint of his era and progressiveness, he wasn't highly regarded. This explains why his paintings were priced lower than expected.

However, he was a giant in his lifetime, virtually swallowing the entire Austrian art scene. He was also generous enough to acknowledge the young Klimt's talent and treated him more as a colleague than as a student.

Klimt glanced at the bookshelf and asked,

“Is there any liquor left?”


Ernst, looking somewhat embarrassed, shrugged his shoulders.

“How did you know?”

“I saw you drinking secretly.”

“That’s embarrassing.”

Ernst pulled out a thick book from the shelf. Many old books had box-like covers, and the one he removed was no exception. Surprisingly, instead of a book, there was a bottle of liquor inside the box.

Ernst took out two cups, filled them halfway, and handed one to Klimt.

“Drink sparingly. This is the last of it.”

The two men sipped their drinks in silence.

The smoke from their pipes and the strong scent of whiskey filled the shop.

For a non-smoker like me, being in this cramped space between the two men, as if catching raccoons, was quite a challenge.

After a moment of silence, Ernst took a sip and said,

“Brother, shall we paint portraits again?”


“Remember how we earned six guilders from that last commission?”

Guilder? That was a gold coin unit in Dutch and German cultures. But how much would six guilders be? It doesn't seem like a lot.

As far as I remember, the two enrolled in the Vienna School of Applied Arts in 1877 and worked on converting photographs to portraits to earn their tuition fees.

‘If it’s 1886 now, that’s nine years after their enrollment. They would have graduated by now and probably wouldn’t want to do the same part-time jobs they did as students.’

As expected, Klimt quietly shakes his head. Ernst, as if he just threw the idea out there, sighed and took another sip before continuing.

“It’s already been six years since we decorated the central hall of the Vienna Museum of Art History.”


“It was good when we did the interior decorations for the Empress's summer house, the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermesvilla">Hermes Villa</a>. Last year was busy and fulfilling, but this year, no work is coming in.”

“That was also because Mr. Hans subcontracted it to us.”

“I know, but now Mr. Hans is ill and can’t share his work with us. Nobody else is giving us jobs. Maybe it’s time for us to find our own way, brother?”

Klimt also remained silent, just drinking his liquor.

Then, someone knocked on the open door of the shop. A gentleman dressed in a black suit spoke.

“Is this the Artist Company?”

Ernst and Klimt sprang up like springs.

“Yes, it is!”

“I’m from the city hall.”

“The city hall?”

A government official had come.

Given the lack of operating funds, this didn't seem like good news for the two.

However, the city hall official, noticing their dismay, smiled and spoke.

“Don’t worry, I’ve brought a job opportunity.”


After hanging his hat on the coat rack, the official continued.

“Soon, the nearby Burgtheater will be demolished and rebuilt. The city hall plans to commemorate its current appearance with a painting.”

Ernst looked at his brother with joy, but Klimt’s expression was odd.

After a pause, Klimt spoke.

“As far as I know, that job was supposed to go to Mr. Hans.”

The official hesitated for a moment before looking at Klimt.

“Haven’t you heard the news yet?”

“What are you talking about?”

The official glanced outside the open door and lowered his voice slightly.

“Just a little while ago, Austrian painter Hans Makart passed away.”

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