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Head of an Old Woman. Study for Death and Life, 1908/09

Leopold Museum,
Pencil on Japanese paper
56.5×37.3 cm


  • Gustav Klimt

    (Baumgarten near Vienna/Vienna 1862–1918 Vienna)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment
The present work on paper is one of two studies executed by Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) for Death and Life that are housed today by the Leopold Museum along with the painting. The rendering of an old woman’s head, situated in Death and Life directly above the bent over man at the center of the pyramid of life, is one of the few studies that Klimt transferred almost unchanged into his 1910/11 painting and did not alter even for the 1915 reworked version. Despite this motivic proximity to the finished painting, Alice Strobl dated this study, as well as the majority of the known studies created for Death and Life, back to 1908 and 1909.

Object data

  • Gustav Klimt
Head of an Old Woman. Study for Death and Life
Art movement
Art Nouveau, Symbolism
Graphic work
Pencil on Japanese paper
56.5×37.3 cm
Stamp (black) lower right: GUSTAV KLIMT NACHLASS
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 1378
Inventory access
Contributed to the Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung in 1994
Selection of Reference works
  • Gustav Klimt. Jahrhundertkünstler, hrsg. von Hans-Peter Wipplinger/Sandra Tretter, Wien 2018 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 22.06.2018–04.11.2018).
  • Gustav Klimt. Die Sammlung im Leopold Museum, hrsg. von Tobias G. Natter/Elisabeth Leopold, Ostfildern 2013 (Bestandskatalog des Leopold Museum: Band 1).
  • Klimt persönlich. Bilder - Briefe - Einblicke, hrsg. von Tobias G. Natter/Franz Smola, Wien 2012 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 24.02.2012–27.08.2012).
  • Alice Strobl: Gustav Klimt. Die Zeichnungen 1904-1912, Salzburg 1982.
Catalogue raisonne
  • Strobl Bd. 2/1982: 1879

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Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Nachlass Gustav Klimt, Wien (1918); (1)
Anton Schmid, Wien (o.D.); (2)
Galerie Kornfeld und Klipstein, Bern (1956-1958); (3)
Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Wien (1958-1994); (4)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (1994).

  1. Nachlassstempel »GUSTAV / KLIMT / NACHLASS« auf der Blattvorderseite
  2. Sonja Niederacher, Gustav Klimt. Kopf einer alten Frau. Studie zu „Tod und Leben“, 1908/09. Dossier vom 31.12.2017
  3. Klipstein & Kornfeld, Lagerkatalog Nr. 61. Gustav Klimt, Bern 1957, Nr. 9
  4. Niederacher, Dossier; Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Katalog zu: Gustav Klimt. 1862-1918. Zeichnungen, Gedächtnisausstellung 16. Oktober bis 16. Dezember 1962, Wien 1962, Nr. 142

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