With its mauve ground and nature-inspired, flower-like symbols, Number 7 of Hilma af Klint’s The Ten Largest
paintings recognizably belongs to her adulthood themed pieces. Each painting in the series is dedicated to one of the four stages of life: Childhood
and Old Age
, with the most paintings dedicated to adulthood (4 in total, as compared to 2 each for childhood and old age). This piece has an almost diagrammatic quality to its abstract language, with Roman numerals marking different parts of the large yellow motif that dominates the painting. Although they are over 3 metres tall, the artist completed each piece in just 4 days.
Hilma af Klint
The Ten Largest, Group IV No. 7, Adulthood
FSC Certified paper and wood
Date of work
Original: Tempera on paper, mounted on canvas315 × 235 cm Hilma af Klint Foundation
Hilma af Klint (1862 – 1944) was a Swedish artist, considered to be the first abstract artist in Western art history. Talented in mathematics and botany, she studied painting at Tekniska skolan in Stockholm, and then the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. She initially painted landscapes, portraits and botanical illustrations, but from 1906 she began creating large scale abstract artworks as part of her explorations of theosophy and spiritualism. Believing herself to be guided by a higher power when creating these radically abstract works, she did not exhibit them in her lifetime, and left instructions for them not to be shown until two decades after her death. She is now recognized as a pioneer in abstraction, predating the works of Malevich, Kandinsky and Mondrian.