Another detail which is often reproduced is this one from Klimt's The Three Ages of Woman - so sweetly pretty and romantic.
It was some time before I came across a reproduction of the complete painting, and the effect was like a blow, as I am sure it was intended to be. [You can enlarge the small image at the top of the page to get the full impact.]
The depiction of the old woman is harsh and cruel, but also realistic ... or so I felt it to be at the time. For I was in the midst of the depression I have described which made an invalid of me, and I took the book containing the complete painting to show my therapist, so she could understand how I felt. But I came out of that, and whatever my mirror shows me today, ten years on, that is not how I feel now - so it is not how I am.
Then yesterday I wandered in to Ronni Bennett's blog Time Goes By, in which she describes her wish"to counter the complete absence, in popular writing about aging, of anything that is not focused on disease, decline and debility". In a piece in which she asks the question "When is someone old", she comments on how "the near-universal negative regard of old people goes back at least as far as Shakespeare who had a particularly harsh view of old age". Klimt has done nothing to alter that, but now some of us are trying - assisted, it's only fair to say, by advances in medicine and technological developments.
I started writing this blog 18 months ago under the banner of old age, because I too wanted to dispel the common perceptions of old people. But I have moved on since then, and I am beginning to wonder if I would do better to write as a woman of undeclared age, so that I should be seen purely for who I am, and not as a surprise or an exception to what people expect. Leo, one of my visitors, commented: "Congratulations for your blog and your age! you just seem a 30 old woman ;)" Doesn't that prove something?