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Fantasy and death


Among novelists and poets, the Symbolists were attracted not only to the works of Charles Baudelaire but also to the dark tales of Edgar Allan Poe. Both wrote imaginative stories and accounts of death. The mystery of life and death was certainly a popular theme among the Symbolists. It was also connected with the decadent lifestyle in the late 1800s, particularly in Paris. Through fantasy, artists tried also to depict broader phenomena and dimensions beyond everyday life, such as mythical visions and forsaken Paradise, the mindscapes and beauty of the subconscious, fear and other emotions.

The paintings of Hugo Simberg create their own special world in which profound questions about life are intertwined with a gentle sense of humour and a deep sense of empathy. His paintings also often portray different states of mind and emotions.

Works displayed in this theme

Enckell, Magnus: Boy with Skull, 1893
Death's Walk, 1896

Flodin, Hilda: Death, undated
Death and the Child, undated
Destiny and Us, undated

Parviainen, Oscar: Death Biting a Snake, 1904
Skeleton Men, undated

Simberg, Hugo: Adam and Eve, c. 1895
Dance on the Quay, 1899
Death and the Peasant, 1895
Death Knocks, 1900
Death Listens, 1897
Devil Keeping an Eye on the Earth, 1899
Devotion, 1895
Dream, 1900
The Garden of Death, 1896 (audio guide)
Garland Bearer (3 paintings), 1905
Round Dance, 1898
Travel Companions, 1901


< Spirituality and mysticism | In the Spirit of Symbolism | Late Symbolism >

More information on the works and artists from the Finnish National Gallery Collections web service.