Oil on canvas (1872)
16 October 1827
|Died||16 January 1901 (aged 73)|
|Isle of the Dead|
He was born in 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 Anselm 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. 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.
His first fiancé died young. A second woman declined to marry. In Rome, he married Angela Rosa Lorenza Pascucci in 1853. The couple had fourteen children, but five died in childhood and another three died before Böcklin. He himself nearly succumbed to typhoid in 1859.
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 (1872), 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, Böcklin's symbolist use of imagery derived from mythology and legend often overlapped with the aesthetic of the Pre-Raphaelites. Many of his paintings portray mythological subjects in settings involving classical architecture, often allegorically exploring death and mortality in the context of a strange, fantasy world.
Böcklin is best known for his five versions (painted 1880 to 1886) of the Isle of the Dead, which partly evokes the English Cemetery, Florence, which was 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 dreamlike atmosphere.
Böcklin exercised an influence on Giorgio de Chirico, and on Surrealist painters like Max Ernst and Salvador Dalí. 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's paintings, especially Isle of the Dead, inspired several late-Romantic composers.
- Gustav Mahler's song Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt (St. Anthony's Sermon to the Fish) from his Des Knaben Wunderhorn song cycle, which also appears as the Scherzo movement in Mahler's Symphony No. 2 (Mahler) was inspired by Böcklin's 1892 painting, St. Anthony Preaching to the Fish.
- In 1891, Portuguese pianist José Vianna da Motta composed two pieces on Böcklin's paintings Meeresidylle and Im Spiel der Wellen.
- Sergei Rachmaninoff (see Isle of the Dead) and Heinrich Schulz-Beuthen both composed symphonic poems after it. 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.
- Andreas Hallén, a Swedish Romantic composer, wrote a symphonic poem Die Toteninsel in 1898.
- In 1913 Max Reger composed a set of Four Tone Poems after Böcklin with the movements "Der geigende Eremit", "Im Spiel der Wellen", "Die Toteninsel", and "Bacchanal".
- In Mark Robson's film Isle of the Dead (1945), Disney composer Leigh Harline's somber score makes use of Sergei Rachmaninoff's music.
- Hans Huber's second symphony is entitled Böcklin-Sinfonie, after the artist and his paintings.
- Felix Woyrsch composed 3 Böcklin Phantasies (Die Toteninsel, Der Eremit, Im Spiel der Wellen), Op. 53 (1910).
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.
- 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 (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 107–108. 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.
- Holzhey, Magdalena (2005). Giorgio de Chirico, 1888–1978: the Modern Myth. Köln: Taschen. p. 11. ISBN 3822841528.
- Jonathan Yungkans: Liner notes to the complete Benno Moiseiwitsch Rachmaninoff recordings 1937–43 Archived March 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Ates Orga: Liner notes to Demidenko plays Rachmaninov
- Vinocur, John. "The Burlesque, and Rigor, of Arnold Böcklin." New York Times. 12 January 2002.
- "...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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Arnold Böcklin.|
- Publications by and about Arnold Böcklin in the catalogue Helveticat of the Swiss National Library
- "Arnold Böcklin". SIKART Lexicon on art in Switzerland.
- Works by Arnold Böcklin at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Arnold Böcklin at Internet Archive
- Bocklin in "History of Art"
- Böcklin biography and images at CGFA
- A gallery of art from Arnold Böcklin
- 70 different engravings by Arnold Böcklin on display with translations (Archived 2009-10-25)
- 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 (nos. 5–10)
- "Brahms, Böcklin, and the Gesang der Parzen", by Eftychia Papanikolaou; article in Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography 30/1-2 (Spring-Fall 2005): 154–165.