{{ currentSlide }} / {{ totalSlides }}

Arnold Böcklin

Basle 1827 - 1901 San Domenico
Price range
0 – 3,000,000 USD
Arnold Böcklin was a major painter in the German-speaking world during the late nineteenth century who expressed his singular talent in iconoclastic explorations of myth and fantasy.

Favoring unnatural, jarring colors, his works are fraught with tension in their disconcerting realism and discordant synthesis of emotions, subjects, references and genres — foreshadowing the joke of a Dadaist montage. Drawing upon a repertoire of nymphs, Christ, death, sea-serpents, forest, murders, saints, tritons, meadows, Greek gods, and a hybrid bestiary verging on the bizarre, Böcklin’s paintings typically show a dark, mystical primeval force of nature, counterbalanced in some cases, by his farcical wry humor.  While his artistic and aesthetic references were anchored in the Germanic world, Böcklin uniquely grafted the Teutonic spirit onto the Mediterranean ideal of Classical antiquity. In his finest works one sees a profound metaphysical dimension; indeed, Sigmund Freud, whose seminal theses on the ‘unconscious’ were a key influence on Symbolism and Surrealism, had a print of Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead in his waiting room alongside another of Fuseli’s Nightmare.

Read more Read less
Selected artworks

Top 3 auction prices

337,394 $
523,151 $
971,649 $


The sales are: Sotheby’s London – 9 Dec 2020 lot 9 (252,000 GBP), Christie’s Paris – 23 Feb 2009 lot 89 (409,000 EUR), and Christie’s Zurich – 1 Dec 2008 lot 95 (1,179,000 CHF).
From our journal
Notable exhibitions

Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, Grotesk! 130 Jahre Kunst der Frechheit, 27 March – 9 June 2003; travelled to Munich, Haus der Kunst, 27 June – 14 September 2003. Curated by Pamela Kort.

New York, Neue Galerie, Comic Grotesque: Wit and Mockery in German Art, 1870-1940, 15 October 2004 – 14 February 2005. Curated by Pamela Kort.

Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel, Arnold Böcklin – Eine Retrospektive, 19 May – 26 August 2001; travelled to Paris, Musée d’Orsay, 1 October 2001 – 15 January 2002; Munich, Neue Pinakothek, 14 February – 26 May 2002. Curated by Bernd Wolfgang Lindemann, Katharina Schmidt and Birgitta Coers.

Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, Seelen Reich: Symbolist Art in Germany, 1870–1920, 26 February – 30 April 2000; travelled to Birmingham, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 26 May – 30 July 2000; Sweden, Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, 25 August – 5 November 2000. Curated by Ingrid Ehrhardt and Simon Reynolds.

Zürich, Kunsthaus Zürich, Böcklin, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst: Eine Reise ins Ungewisse, 3 October 1997 – 18 January 1998; travelled to Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, 20 May – 10 August 1998. Curated by Guido Magnaguagno and Juri Steiner.



Books on Arnold Böcklin

Pamela Kort, ed., Comic Grotesque: Wit and Mockery in German Art, 1870-1940, Munich and London, 2004.

Katharina Schmidt, Bernd Wolfgang Lindemann and Birgitta Coers, eds., Arnold Böcklin, exh. cat., Heidelberg, 2001.

Ingrid Ehrhardt and Simon Reynolds, eds., Seelen Reich: Symbolist Art in Germany, 1870–1920, exh. cat., Munich, 2000.

Guido Magnaguagno and Juri Steiner Arnold, eds., Böcklin, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst: Eine Reise ins Ungewisse, exh. cat., Bern, 1997.

Rolf Andree, Arnold Böcklin: Beiträge zur Analyse seiner Bildgestalltung, Düsseldorf, 1962.

Giorgio de Chirico, ‘Arnold Boecklin’, Il Convegno, 4, Milan, 1920, pp. 47–53.

Fritz von Ostini, Böcklin, Leipzig and Bielefeld, 1913.

Heinrich Alfred Schmid, Arnold Böcklin: Eine Auswahl der hervoragendsten Werke des Künstlers in Photogravüre, 4 vols, Munich, 1892–1901.

You may also like