Art Spotlight: Böcklin's Self-portrait with Death

Art Spotlight: Böcklin's Self-portrait with Death
"Self-portrait with Death Playing the Fiddle" Fine Art Images/Heritage/Getty

Our podcast episode "The Problem of Immortality" explores the manner in which the terror of death and the quest for immortality define every facet of our lives. As such, I thought Arnold Böcklin's "Self-portrait with Death Playing the Fiddle" served as an excellent cover image.

The 1872 painting captures both the painter's grasp for permanence through artistic endeavor, as well as the inexorable nature of death and its taunting hold on our lives. Böcklin frequently incorporated mythic symbols in his work, and so here we see the common medieval trope of Death and his fiddle.

Böcklin (1827 - 1901) became particularly obsessed by death following the death of his infant daughter Maria, influencing this painting as well as his most famous work, "Isle of the Dead."

"The Isle of the Dead" by Arnold Böcklin, 1883
Wikimedia Commons