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Arnold Böcklin

Arnold Böcklin - self portrait

Arnold Böcklin - self portrait

Arnold Böcklin (16 October 1827 – 16 January 1901) was a Swiss symbolist painter. He studied at Düsseldorf where he became a friend of Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach. Originally a landscape painter, his travels through Brussels, Zurich, Geneva and Rome, exposed him to classical and Renaissance art, and the Mediterranean landscape. These new influences brought allegorical and mythological figures into his compositions. In 1866 he resided at Basel, in 1871 in Munich, in 1885 in Hottingen (Switzerland) and at the end of his life in Fiesole near Florence.

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 of Isle of the Dead. 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. This painting was also influential with Surrealist painters like Max Ernst and Salvador Dalí, and on Giorgio de Chirico and then later other artists such as H.R. Giger who created a painting called Hommage to Boecklin, based upon Isle of the Dead.

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

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