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Böcklin, Arnold - Playing in the Waves 1883

Identifier

024385

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

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.

The source of the experience

Böcklin, Arnold

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Sacrifice
Water

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Overloads

Grief
Overwhelming fear and terror

Commonsteps

References