Parallelism in Ferdinand Hodler’s Symbolist Painting


Self-portrait3-artist-Ferdinand-Hodler Ferdinand Hodler, Self-portrait, c. 1900

On the 14th March 1853, Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler was born in Gürzelen, canton of Berne. Hodler’s friend, Symbolist poet Louis Duchosal described him as “a mystic and a realist, a duality which disconcerts and disorients …. He excels in rendering the things of the past or of the dream and the realities of life.” (‘Le Salon Suisse’, Revue de Genève, 20 October 1885). The artist began his training in the 1870s, as a realist painter of everyday scenes, but as he made more connections with literary Symbolism during the next decade, his interests shifted towards rendering spiritual concepts by means of figurative symbols. In the 1890s he began a series of monumental allegorical paintings that would keep him occupied for the rest of his life.

In most of them there is a strong correspondence between landscape and figure. This relation was…

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