Klimt's symbolism continues with The Three Ages of Woman which visually represents the passage of time.
Female portraits are used by this artist to convey all manner of different messages in his work and this particular artwork had had won the gold medal in 1911 International Exhibition, Rome.
The portrayal of three women of different ages indicates a direct path of time, presenting it warts-and-all rather than an unrealistic view of reality.
It was around this time that Klimt was using very dark backgrounds in his work, and you will see it in this painting.
The old woman in the painting is based on a sculpture by Auguste Rodin titled The Old Courtesan. Rodin was to spend time with Gustav after they met in Vienna, and the two developed a strong friendship besides just a mutual respect for each other's work.
There will also a crossover with The Kiss, with Rodin producing his own sculpture version of Klimt's painting.
Youth and age, blossoming and withering, the entire calamity of desire and suffering known as human life. And the symbolic group intimately surrounded and enveloped by the most equisite fantasy of mosaic shoots. — Ludwig Hevesi, 1907
The Three Ages of Woman won the gold medal in the 1911 International Exhibition in Rome, Italy. Klimt was an artist who achieved huge academic respect during his own lifetime, where as many artists who bring in new ideas and techniques commonly only gain approval many years after their lives and careers have passed by.
Mother and Child is a popular reproduction but is actually just a detailed section of The Three Ages of Woman, with the elderly woman removed.