Böcklin, Arnold - Playing in the Waves 1883
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Nero fiddles whilst Rome burns. This painting is intended to evoke the deep unease that all the art world had for what was happening at the time. This is no calm sea in which they are playing, the waves are high, the sea is rough and the sky is darkening. They are seemingly oblivious to the growing storm. The contrast between Light and Dark is extreme and the nymph has a crown of thorns with seaweed which has all the appearance of blood running down her shoulders. Soon she will be sacrificed at the altar of greed and mechanisation, on the cross of ego and science, and art and the divine will die. She looks up rather imploringly for help from the gods, but no help comes. A great monster of a man, wild with ambition, thoughts of war and power, rides down on them and soon they will be run down. The feminine sinks beneath the waves.