Arnold Boecklin – Self-Portrait with Death Playing with Fiddle – 1872 Oil on Canvas DEC 22 RELEASE DATE


This symbolistic painting is a self-portrait executed in 1872 by the Swiss symbolist artist Arnold Böcklin. He first exhibited at the Kunstverein München in the same year, establishing his reputation in Munich’s artistic community. It is now in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. 

Painted in Munich, the painting depicts a bearded Böcklin stalked by a personification of death playing a single-stringed violin in an intimation of his mortality. Death and mortality are a repeating theme in several of Böcklin’s works, including Plague, two versions of War, and five versions of Isle of the Dead.

According to Alma Mahler, the wife of the composer Gustav Mahler, her husband was “under the spell” of Böcklin’s self-portrait when writing the scherzo movement of his Fourth Symphony.

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