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Arnold Böcklin

Arnold Böcklin (16 October 182716 January 1901) was a symbolist Swiss painter.

Life and art

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 Bâle, 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 within the Art Nouveau style. His pictures portray mythological, fantastical figures along classical architecture constructions (revealing often an obsession with death) creating a strange, fantasy world.

Böcklin is best known for his five versions 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.


Böcklin exercised an influence on Surrealist painters like Max Ernst and Salvador Dalí, and on Giorgio de Chirico.

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

Böcklin's paintings, especiallyyyy The Isle of the Dead, inspired several late-Romantic composers. Sergei Rachmaninoff and Heinrich Schülz-Beuthen both composed symphonic poems after it, and 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). Hans Huber's second symphony is entitled "Böcklin-Sinfonie", after the artist and his paintings.

Rachmaninoff was also inspired by Böcklin’s painting The Return when writing his Prelude in B Minor, Op. 32, No. 10.

H.R.Gieger has a picture called "Hommage to Boecklin", based upon "Isle of the Dead"


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