old age = the opposite to youth; old age = time of dying; old age = knowledge; old age = experience; old age = spiritual wealth
Chowanna, 2009, t. 2, s. 33-47
The article focuses on different representation of old age in European classical
painting. The author describes old age using pictorial art as a source of historical and
cultural information. Applying qualitative methods, the researcher analyzed similar conception
of ageing, consequently identifying several groups of images. The first is old age
treated as an opposition to youth, but also as a dialogue between these two stages of life.
The second approach shows old people as dignified and noble, like in Leon Wyczółkowski’s
Self- Portrait in Yellow Jerkin. Another recurrent representation of elderly people emphasize
their maturity and experience. Finally, ageing is frequently associated with ugliness
and destruction. Subsequently, the author analyzes the differences and similarities between
the representations of women and men. Usually women do not appear as distinctive
as men, sitting immovable in their black dresses, unoccupied and inactive. Old men
are more often depicted as king or even God, or as vigorous and dynamic characters.
In the summary, the author distinguishes two perspective. One, centred on the human
body and beauty, depreciates old age as time of degeneration, suffering and agony.
The second view, however, focusing on values such as knowledge, maturity and experience,
acknowledges and appreciates the positive face of old age.