The final two paintings in Hilma af Klint’s The Ten Largest
series deal with the last stage of human life: old age. The ground has lightened to pink, with darker patches of deeper colour towards the bottom of the piece. Two geometric, flower-like symbols appear at the top of the painting, with a hypotrochoid pattern. The artist was a talented mathematician and botanist, and elements of both are to be found in her abstract works. 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). Although they are over 3 metres tall, the artist completed the whole series in just 40 days.
Hilma af Klint
The Ten Largest, Group IV No. 9, Old Age
FSC Certified paper and wood
Date of work
Original: Tempera on paper, mounted on canvas 320 × 238 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.