1.5.3.3 Symbolism (1880s-1890s)

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QUICK LINKS:
Dancing Bears, Beard
Self-Portrait with Death Playing the Fiddle, Böcklin
Battle of the Centaurs, Böcklin
Nightfall Down the Thames, Grimshaw
The Cyclops, Redon

Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts seeking to represent absolute truths symbolically through metaphorical images and language mainly as a reaction against naturalism and realism. Distinct from, but related to, the style of literature, symbolism in art is related to the Gothic component of Romanticism and Impressionism.

[Source: Wikimedia commons]

[1533-10]


Image source: pinterest.com
William Holbrook Beard, who worked in New York City from 1859 until his death, earned a reputation as one of America’s finest animal painters.

Many of his paintings employed animals to mimic and satirise human behavior, thus participating in a tradition dating back to antiquity.
[Source: nyhistory.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Dancing Bears1870Oil/LinenGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Beard, William Holbrook1824 – 1900, aged 75American painter, NYAnimal Painting
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1533-14]

New York Historical Society Museum, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, USA31 x 38  
Painted in Munich, this self-portrait depicts a bearded Böcklin stalked by a personification of death, while playing a single-stringed violin in an intimation of his mortality.

It is an echo of an earlier painting of Sir Brian Tuke by an anonymous painter c.1540, part of the collection of the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, in which the shadowing figure of Death is pointing at an hourglass.
(Source: Wikimedia commons)

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Self-Portrait with Death Playing the Fiddle1872Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Böcklin, Arnold 1827 – 1901, aged 73Swiss artistSymbolism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1533-11]

Alte Nationalgalerie, Museum Island, Berlin75 x 61  
Böcklin completed this painting in Munich, where he was based for a time in the early 1870s, working partly in collaboration with his friend, the society painter Franz von Lenbach.

Lenbach was then employed by the poet and art collector Adolf Friedrich von Schack, who became a major patron of Böcklin’s throughout his career. The work is an explicit homage to Michelangelo’s unfinished 1492 marble relief Battle of the Centaurs, but adapts the style of the piece in various ways, responding to various subsequent artistic genres.

This is one of many works created by Böcklin which rework the classical mythical tropes of Renaissance Art.
[Source: theartstory.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons

TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Battle of the Centaurs1873Oil/CanvasHistory painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Böcklin, Arnold 1827 – 1901, aged 73Swiss artistSymbolism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1533-12]

Kuntsmuseum Basel, St. Alban-Graben 16, 4051 Basel, Switzerland105 x 195  


Image source: Wikimedia commons
John Atkinson Grimshaw was an English Victorian-era artist best known for his nocturnal scenes of urban landscapes. Today, he is considered one of the great painters of the Victorian era, as well as one of the best and most accomplished nightscape and townscape artists of all time. He was called a ‘remarkable and imaginative painter’ by the critic and historian Christopher Wood.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Nightfall Down the Thames1880Oil/BrdLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Grimshaw, John Atkinson1836 – 1893, aged 57English painterSymbolism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1533-13]

Leeds City Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA UK40 x 63  
The work of Redon portrays a dream world, inhabited by fairies, monsters, spirits and other fantasy figures. This makes him typically representative of symbolism, an art movement in the late 19th century with a strong leaning towards the subconscious, the extraordinary and the inexplicable.

In this painting, the Cyclops Polyphemus spies on the sleeping Nereid Galathea from behind a tall mountain. The one-eyed giant’s love remains unrequited, as Galathea prefers the river god Acis. The unnaturally large eye is the most conspicuous part of the painting. In Redon’s work, the eye is often an all controlling, independent creature, a symbol of the human soul and of the mysterious, unknown inner world.
[Source: artsandculture.google.com]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Cyclops, The (Polyphemus)c1898-1914Oil/PanelHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Redon, Odilon1840-1916, aged 76French painterSymbolism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):  
Rijksmuseum, Kroller-Muler, Houtkampweg 6, 6731 AW Otterlo, Netherlands60 x 75  

Forward to 1.5.3.4 Abstract Art I (1880s- 1952)
Back to 1.5.3.2 Art Nouveau (1879-1914)
Back to 1.5.3 Pointillism Index – Back to 1.5.2 Arts and Crafts (1868-1910)

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