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Böcklin, Arnold [Swiss, 1827-1901] 











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Böcklin, Arnold [Swiss, 1827-1901]

[ 19th Century Artists | Symbolist Artists ]

Arnold Böcklin (1827–1901), was a Swiss painter, born at Basel on the 16th of October 1827. 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. In 1846 he began his studies at the Dusseldorf academy under Schirmer, who recognized in him, a student of exceptional promise, and 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; his Landscape and Ruin reveals at the same time a strong feeling for nature and a dramatic conception of scenery. After serving his time in the army he set out for Rome in March 1850, and the sight of the Eternal City was a fresh stimulus to his mind. So, too, was the influence of Italian nature and that of the dead pagan world. At Rome he married (June 20, 1853) Angela Rosa Lorenza Pascucci. In 1856 he returned to Munich, and remained there four years. He then exhibited the Great Park, one of his earliest works, in which he treated ancient mythology with the stamp of individuality, which was the basis of his reputation. Of this period, too, 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 [1836–1904] recommendation, gained him his 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 was again at Rome from 1862 to 1866, and there gave his fancy and his taste for violent color free play in his Portrait of Mme Böcklin, now in the Basel gallery, in An Anchorite in the Wilderness (1863); a Roman Tavern, and Villa on the Sea-shore (1864); this last, one of his best pictures. 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, and used as the image accompanying this article), was painted after his return again to Munich, where he exhibited his famous Battle of the Centaurs (in the Basel gallery); Landscape with Moorish Horsemen (in the Lucerne gallery); and A Farm (1875).

From 1886 to 1892 he settled at Zurich. Of this period are the Naiads at Play, A Sea Idyll, and War. After 1892 Böcklin resided at San Domenico, near Florence. An exhibition of his collected works was held at Basel from the 20th of September to the 24th of October 1897. He died on the 16th of January 1901. His life has been written by Henri Mendelssohn.

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