|Isle of the Dead, 1880 (first version), Arnold Bocklin.|
|Arnold Bocklin Self-portrait, 1872|
|Arnold Bocklin, AKA Art Nouveau|
|Isle of the Dead, Arnold Bocklin,|
Versions two through five.
In pop music, recording artists having only major success are known as "one hit wonders." That might well be an accurate label for Bocklin. His "one hit" came in 1880, his Isle of the Dead (top). To call the dark, forbidding island landscape "morbid" would be like calling the pyramids pointed. The painting depicts a rocky inlet in an islet across a broad, dark expanse of water. Deep within the inlet is a cemetery of towering Cypress. A rowboat bearing a coffin approaches the inlet--not exactly living room art. Yet at one time the novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, reported that a Bocklin print of this scene hung in every home in Berlin. Moreover, if you have only one major "hit" as an artist, it's best to make the most of it. Bocklin did. Over a period of six years, he painted five slightly different versions (above, right). While perhaps not a number one hit, Bocklin's 1887 The Homecoming (below) was also said to have been influential, if not exactly popular. History does not recall whether Hitler liked it.
|The Homecoming, 1887, Arnold Bocklin, also said to have influenced|