The Wave of the Ages | 1894-1905

The first version of the Wave of Ages was created in Rome during 1902-1903. Within this initial version there is evidence indicating that main elements found in the finished work were already in place. In the larger, final version forms are rendered more clearly and there is a change in the posture of the woman. Similar to that, in the earlier version she rises up with her hands at her sides. The older version depicts the woman with her hands pressed together. The figure’s hair and clothing falls vertically down her side as well, while at the bottom, in the movement of the wave, people are drawn spiraling upwards along the shape of her body. The figures in the lowest part of the work are undefined, becoming obscured as they move higher in the wave, taking on its shape. It can be seen that the clearest figure reaches as high as the woman’s breast.

The subject of this work can be connected to the myth of the birth of Aphrodite the Greek goddess of beauty and love and her ascension from the sea. The curved lines and correlation with nature are linked to the jugendstil of the early 20th century. Einar initially called the piece Skýstrokkurinn (The Tornado) but later changed the name to The Wave of Ages, creating more symbolism through the use of a measure of time. This element helps to derive from the work, a sense of eternal struggle or development. Contemporary ideas concerning the quest for originality in art and the strong independent individual can be interpreted through the upward movement in the flow of the work and the struggle of the people in the wave. Some only manage to keep their heads above water, while others are able to reach an area higher.