Arnold Bocklin

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Arnold Bocklin: 19th Centuryfamous Swiss Symbolist Painter

Arnold Bocklin was born on October 16, 1827, in Basel. He was descended from a family of Northern Switzerland. Since Bocklin’s father was engaged in the silk trade, it might have influenced Bocklin’s interest in travel. He started his painting study at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art at an early age under landscape painter Johann Wilhelm Schirmer. As studied with Romantic painter Carl Friedrich Lessing, he was eventually introduced to the Nazarene Movement artwork. All these artistic styles have greatly influenced Bocklin’s stylistic approach. He was popular for using shadows dramatically to bring out expressive characters of his landscape artworks.

Early Life

By 1850 Bocklin was in Rome, and his artistic feature dramatically started flooding with warm Italian sceneries. He started mythological features such as cavorting nymphs, lusty centaurs, and lonely shepherds in the shady roman landscapes. He even used this kind of theme in his ‘Pan Pursuing Syrinx’ (1857) that represented the polarities of life that brought him much fame. After returning to Basel, he taught at the Academy of Art in Weimar before returning to Rome in 1862. When he was residing in Florence until 1885, it became his most active period. Afterward, he continued to explore the various themes such as allegories of nature’s powers, male-female antithesis, and religious scenes, etc. 

Some of his famous works

Playing in the waves was a painting about Arnold on vacation with his friend Anton Dohrn, who disappeared under the water and stayed long enough to worry everyone before resurfacing at a good distance. 

Island of the deadArnold saw a beautiful small island on Ischia that deeply impressed him, which he later painted in the form of ‘Island of the Dead.’ It became one of his famous pictorial works. 

PlagueArnold created ‘Plague’ in 1898 in a Symbolism style. It represents the artist’s obsession with nightmares of war, pestilence, and death. 

Triton and NereidArnold Bocklin painted this symbolism style work in 1877. This is an artwork on USEUM.

WarWar is the name of a painting duo based on the same theme, i.e., completed in quick succession in 1896. While the first version is in the collection of Galerie Neue Meister, the second one was unfinished and is in KunsthausZürich in Switzerland. 

 He was known for sinister allegories and moody landscapes, which were greatly inspired by the late 19th-century German artists and forecasted the symbolism of the 20th-century Metaphysical and Surrealist artists. He died on January 16, 1901, in Fiesole, Italy.