His father, Ernst Klimt, was a gold engraver. He immigrated to Austria from Bohemia (now Czech Republic). Klimt lived in poverty for most of his childhood, as work was scarce and economic advancement was difficult for immigrants. However, Gustav Klimt displayed artistic talent early on, and he was awarded a scholarship to the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts when he was 14 years old. He received training as an architectural painter and became a muralist. He won several major awards and had received numerous commissions for public art in Vienna.
According to some biographers, the Kiss is a self-portrait of Klimt and his companion Emilie Louise Flöge, an Austrian fashion designer and businesswoman. When he painted The Kiss, Klimt was 45 and still lived at home with his mother and two unmarried sisters - but behind the respectable facade he was a man with a ferocious sexual appetite. Klimt fathered at least three illegitimate children and probably many more. He was obsessed by women and he had a fixation with redheads. It is no surprise that the woman in The Kiss has red hair.