Lines and Colors art blog

Eye Candy for Today: Böcklin’s Odysseus and Polyphemus

Odysseus and Polyphemus, Arnold Bocklin
Odysseus and Polyphemus, Arnold Böcklin

Link is to zoomable file on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The file on Wikimedia, though originally from the Sotheby’s sale to the museum in 2012, seems over-saturated in reds. Not having had the pleasure of seeing the original, I’ve adjusted a copy of that file to bring it more in line with the color on the museum’s site.

Arnold Böcklin is an artist whose best known painting, Isle of the Dead, is so famous it makes him seem a one-hit-wonder, and his other work is often overlooked. Here he takes on a mythical scene, but his heart is obviously in his love of dramatic rocky landscape.

The figure of Polyphemus, the giant son of Poseidon as portrayed in Homer’s Odyssey, is rendered in a sketchy, gestural forms almost as textural as the rocks on which he stands. His face is essentially a blur of madness and motion.

The rocks themselves, however, are painted in wonderful lavish detail, rich with subtle variations of color and texture, as is the sea and foam that washes around them .

Odysseus and Polyphemus, Google Art Project


One response to “Eye Candy for Today: Böcklin’s Odysseus and Polyphemus

  1. This painting exhibits a mastery of the principles of design and composition. Nothing accidental — much to be learned by studying it!