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Arnold Bocklin

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Arnold Bocklin

For the Art Nouveau typeface, see Arnold Böcklin (typeface).
Arnold Böcklin
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Self-portrait
Oil on canvas (1872)
Birth name Arnold Böcklin
Born 16 October 1827
Basel
Died 16 January 1901 (aged 73)
Fiesole
Nationality Swiss
Field Painting
Movement Symbolism
Works Isle of the Dead

Arnold Böcklin (16 October 1827 – 16 January 1901) was a Swiss symbolist painter.

Life and art

He was born at Basel. His father, Christian Frederick Böcklin (b. 1802), was descended from an old family of Schaffhausen, and engaged in the silk trade. His mother, Ursula Lippe, was a native of the same city.[1] Arnold studied at the Düsseldorf academy under Schirmer,[1] and became a friend of Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach. He is associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting. Schirmer, who recognized in him a student of exceptional promise, sent him to Antwerp and Brussels, where he copied the works of Flemish and Dutch masters. Böcklin then went to Paris, worked at the Louvre, and painted several landscapes.[1]

After serving his time in the army, Böcklin set out for Rome in March 1850. At Rome, he married Angela Rosa Lorenza Pascucci in 1853. The many sights of Rome were a fresh stimulus to his mind. These new influences brought allegorical and mythological figures into his compositions. In 1856 he returned to Munich, and remained there for four years. He then exhibited the Great Park, one of his earliest works, in which he treated ancient mythology. Of this period are his Nymph and Satyr, Heroic Landscape (Diana Hunting), both of 1858, and Sappho (1859). These works, which were much discussed, together with Lenbach's recommendation, gained him appointment as professor at the Weimar academy. He held the office for two years, painting the Venus and Love, a Portrait of Lenbach, and a Saint Catherine.[1]

He returned to Rome from 1862 to 1866, and there gave his fancy and his taste for violent colour free play in his Portrait of Mme Böcklin, and in An Anchorite in the Wilderness (1863), a Roman Tavern, and Villa on the Seashore (1864). He returned to Basel in 1866 to finish his frescoes in the gallery, and to paint, besides several portraits, The Magdalene with Christ (1868), Anacreon's Muse (1869), and A Castle and Warriors (1871). His Portrait of Myself, with Death playing a violin (1873), was painted after his return again to Munich, where he exhibited Battle of the Centaurs, Landscape with Moorish Horsemen and A Farm (1875). From 1876 to 1885 Böcklin was working at Florence, and painted a Pietà, Ulysses and Calypso, Prometheus, and the Sacred Grove.[1]

From 1886 to 1892 he settled at Zürich. Of this period are the Naiads at Play, A Sea Idyll, and War. After 1892 Böcklin resided at San Domenico, near Florence.[1]

Symbolism

Influenced by Romanticism his painting is symbolist with mythological subjects often overlapping with the Pre-Raphaelites. His pictures portray mythological, fantastical figures along classical architecture constructions (often revealing an obsession with death) creating a strange, fantasy world.

Böcklin is best known for his five versions (painted in 1880-1886) of Isle of the Dead, which partly evokes the English Cemetery, Florence, close to his studio and where his baby daughter Maria had been buried. An early version of the painting was commissioned by a Madame Berna, a widow who wanted a painting with a dream-like atmosphere.[2]

Clement Greenberg wrote in 1947 that Böcklin's work "is one of the most consummate expressions of all that was now disliked about the latter half of the nineteenth century."[3]

Legacy

Böcklin's paintings, especially Isle of the Dead, inspired several late-Romantic composers.

Isle of the Dead

  • Sergei Rachmaninoff (see Isle of the Dead (Rachmaninoff)) and Heinrich Schulz-Beuthen both composed symphonic poems after it.
  • In Mark Robson's film Isle of the Dead (1945), Disney composer Leigh Harline's somber score makes use of Sergei Rachmaninoff's music. Harline borrows themes and copies their orchestration, taking about as much as he can without violating copyright.
  • In 1913 Max Reger composed a set of Four Tone Poems after Böcklin of which the third movement is "The Isle of the Dead" (The others are "The Hermit playing the Violin", "At play in the Waves" and "Bacchanal").
  • H. R. Giger has a picture called Hommage to Boecklin, based upon Isle of the Dead.

Other

Rachmaninoff was also inspired by Böcklin's painting Die Heimkehr ("The Homecoming" or "The Return") when writing his Prelude in B minor, Op. 32, No. 10.[5][6] Hans Huber's second symphony is entitled Böcklin-Sinfonie, after the artist and his paintings.

Adolf Hitler was fond of Böcklin's work, at one time owning 11 of his paintings.[7]

When asked who was his favorite painter, Marcel Duchamp controversially named Arnold Böcklin as having a major influence on his art. Whether Duchamp was serious in this assertion is still debated.

Böcklin exercised an influence on Surrealist painters like Max Ernst and Salvador Dalí, and on Giorgio de Chirico.

Otto Weisert designed an Art Nouveau typeface in 1904 and named it "Arnold Böcklin" in his honor.

Death

He is buried in the Cimitero Evangelico degli Allori in the southern suburb of Florence, Galluzzo (Italy).

References

External links

  • SIKART dictionary and database
  • Project Gutenberg
  • Bocklin in "History of Art"
  • Böcklin biography and images at CGFA
  • A gallery of art from Arnold Böcklin
  • Archived 2009-10-25)
  • Toteninsel.net: an encyclopedia in progress dedicated to A.Bocklin's Isle of the Dead: copies, parodies, inspirations...
  • , a full text exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on Arnold Böcklin (no. 5-10)

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