Klimt, Old Woman, 1909
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) was an Austrian Symbolist painter, best known for his erotic depictions of the female body, and for the gilded style that marks his most famous work, The Kiss. This painting is quite different; rather than stylistically arresting, the power of the piece is predominantly emotive. For this subject Klimt chose a very limited palette so that the woman's face stands out prominently from the rest of the canvas. The sweeping brushwork gives the woman a sense of presence, reinforced by the way she fills the frame. When we look closely at the subject's face, we can see a weary perseverance portrayed. Although she is aged and worn out, her strength comes through. Klimt demonstrates great skill in eliciting a connection to this woman from the viewer, especially considering that her eyes are not even visible. The warmth, depth, and strength that she exudes can be clearly felt.