Oil on canvas (1872)
16 October 1827
|Died||16 January 1901 (aged 73)
|Notable work(s)||Isle of the Dead|
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. Arnold studied at the Düsseldorf academy under Schirmer, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Roger Zelazny titled one of his novels Isle of the Dead after Böcklin's paintings, and an Ace books edition featured a cover painting by Dean Ellis that was deliberately reminiscent of Böcklin's work.
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. Hans Huber's second symphony is entitled Böcklin-Sinfonie, after the artist and his paintings.
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.
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Frantz, Henri (1911). "Böcklin, Arnold". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. This cites:
- His life, written by Henri Mendelssohn
- F. Hermann, Gazette des Beaux Arts (Paris, 1893)
- Max Lehrs, Arnold Böcklin, Ein Leitfaden sum Verständniss seiner Kunst (Munich, 1897)
- W. Ritter, Arnold Böcklin (Gand, 1895)
- Katalog der Böcklin Jubiläums Ausstellung (Basel, 1897).
- Burroughs, Bryson. "The Island of the Dead by Arnold Böcklin." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 6 (Jun., 1926), pp. 146–148.
- Greenberg, Clement. Nation. 3/22/1947, Vol. 164 Issue 12, p340–342.
- "...And Call Me Roger"": The Literary Life of Roger Zelazny, Part 2, by Christopher S. Kovacs. In: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 2: Power & Light, NESFA Press, 2009.
- Jonathan Yungkans: Liner notes to the complete Benno Moiseiwitsch Rachmaninoff recordings 1937-43
- Ates Orga: Liner notes to Demidenko plays Rachmaninov
- Vinocur, John. "The Burlesque, and Rigor, of Arnold Böcklin." International Herald Tribune. 12 January 2002.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Arnold Böcklin.|
- Arnold Böcklin in the SIKART dictionary and database
- Works by Arnold Böcklin at Project Gutenberg
- Bocklin in "History of Art"
- Böcklin biography and images at CGFA[dead link]
- A gallery of art from Arnold Böcklin[dead link]
- 70 different engravings by Arnold Böcklin on display with translations (Archived 2009-10-25)
- Toteninsel.net: an encyclopedia in progress dedicated to A.Bocklin's Isle of the Dead: copies, parodies, inspirations...
- German masters of the nineteenth century : paintings and drawings from the Federal Republic of Germany, a full text exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on Arnold Böcklin (no. 5-10)