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Hitler’s favorite artist and master of symbolism: Arnold Becklin, who inspired great minds to create masterpieces

One of Adolf Hitler’s favorite masters of painting. The artist who inspired Rachmaninova on the creation of a masterpiece. The great symbolist of the XIX century, who created the unsurpassed “Island of the dead” in 5 versions. This is Arnold Becklin, a Swiss-born artist who rejected the naturalistic tendencies of his time and created a new symbolic mythological direction.
Arnold Becklin (October 16, 1827-January 16, 1901) was an artist whose landscapes and sinister allegories greatly influenced German artists of the late nineteenth century and foreshadowed the symbolism of the twentieth century. Although the master worked in most of Northern Europe – Dusseldorf, Antwerp, Brussels and Paris – becklin found his real inspiration in the landscape of Italy, where he returned from time to time and where he spent the last years of His life. In his paintings, Beklin created a strange, brooding fantasy world populated by fantastic figures. His most famous works of art are five versions of “Island of the dead” (1880-1886).
“Island of the dead»
Arnold Becklin wrote five versions of” Island of the dead ” between 1880 and 1886. One of the works was the inspiration for a Symphony poem by Rachmaninoff, and Hitler purchased a painting of the cycle in 1933, and then hung it in the new Reich Chancellery by albert Speer. However, the mysterious appeal of the image continues to be popular in Germany after the unification.

“Island of the dead” became one of the most popular paintings by becklin. The motifs-island, water, castle and Villa by the sea-are already familiar from many of his early works. The place in the picture is ominous. The viewer’s gaze is focused on the boat. It shows two figures: a rower and a woman in white approaching the island in a small rowing boat. Strict symmetry of the island, calm horizontal and vertical lines, a round island surrounded by high rocky walls, and magical lighting create an atmosphere of solemnity and elevation. The calm state of the waters and the boat with the coffin, which hides a white figure, give the picture some sentimentality. “Island of the dead” is made in a romantic style, reminiscent of both symbolist and pre-Raphaelite paintings. The” heroine ” for the rocky island may have been Ponticonisi , a small, lush island near Corfu that is decorated with a small chapel in the middle of a cypress grove. Another less likely candidate is the island of Ponza in the Tyrrhenian sea.
The advantages of the new print market in Germany have led to reproductions of” Island of the dead “and” Battle of the centaurs ” hitting the walls of middle-class residential buildings across the country.
So, Vladimir Nabokov in the novel “Despair” noted that they can be “found in every Berlin house.”

Thus, Beklin was one of the first modern artists to successfully work on the mass market.
In 1888, Becklin created a work called “the Island of life”, intended as an antithesis to”the Island of the dead”. In it, he also shows a small island, but with all the signs of joy and life. Together with the first version of the island of the dead, this painting is included in the collection of the Art Museum of Basel.
Self-portrait with death playing the violin
In this early, original self-portrait, the artist looks directly at the viewer. Then he pauses, as if he has just sensed the presence of a living skeleton playing a violin over his left shoulder. In this picture, Becklin invites viewers to rework the genre of memento mori (“remember that you are mortal”), popular since the Northern Renaissance.
Heritage

Arnold Pietro .. has had a significant impact on the well-known representatives of art and even world leaders. In particular, he influenced surrealist artists (Max Ernst and Salvador Dali), and Giorgio de Chirico. Otto Weisert designed the art Nouveau font in 1904 and named it after the artist “Arnold Becklin”. Becklin’s paintings, especially “the Island of the dead”, inspired a number of composers of late romanticism to create new works. Sergei Rachmaninoff and Heinrich Schulz-Boiten created symphonic poems, and in 1913 Max Reger wrote a series of four-tone poems (the third part of which is named after the painting by beklin – “Island of the dead”). The second Symphony of Hans Huber is also named after the master of painting “Becklin-Symphony”. Rachmaninoff was also inspired by beklin’s painting “the Return” when he wrote his prelude in b minor. Of course, beklin was loved and worshipped, but his popularity could also make him an object of ridicule: Arseniy Tarkovsky mentions the famous painting in the list of irrevocably departed pre-revolutionary artists:
Where is the “Island of the dead” in a decadent frame?
Where are the plush red sofas?
Where are the photos of men with moustaches?
Where are the reed planes?

Regarding Adolf Hitler, it is important to note that he was not particularly fond of painting, preferring architecture and sculpture. For him, painting was too ephemeral and therefore came last. However, despite his views, for some artists of the past and some works, he made an exception, and Beklin was one of them.
Adolf Hitler considered becklin one of his favorite masters, buying 11 works of the artist. Hitler generally liked becklin, after the war, his “Island of the dead” moved to the National gallery of Berlin, where it remains to this day. When Marcel Duchamp was asked who his favorite artist was, he replied – Arnold Becklin as a master who had a great influence on his art.
Becklin was one of the most successful contemporary artists of the late nineteenth century in terms of his popularity with the General public.

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