In the Sea by Arnold Böcklin - 1883 - 86.5 × 115 cm Art Institute of Chicago In the Sea by Arnold Böcklin - 1883 - 86.5 × 115 cm Art Institute of Chicago

In the Sea

oil on panel • 86.5 × 115 cm
  • Arnold Böcklin - 16 October 1827 - 16 January 1901 Arnold Böcklin 1883

Arnold Böcklin’s art had little in common with Impressionism or the academic art of his time. Instead, his depictions of demigods in naturalistic settings interpret themes from Classical mythology in an idiosyncratic, often sensual manner. In the Sea, part of a series of paintings of mythological subjects, displays an unsettling, earthy realism. Mermaids and tritons frolic in the water with a lusty energy and abandon verging on coarseness. Occupying the center of the composition is a harp-playing triton. Three mermaids have attached themselves to his huge frame as if it were a raft; the one near his shoulder seems to thrust herself upon him. The work’s sense of boisterousness is tempered by the ominously shaped reflection of the triton and mermaids in the sea and by the oddness of the large-eared heads that emerge from the water at the right. In addition to imaginative, bizarre interpretations of the Classical world, Böcklin painted mysterious landscapes punctuated by an occasional lone figure. These haunting later works made him an important contributor to the international Symbolist movement. 

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P.S. Here are five translation mistakes that changed art history!