The Shore of Oblivion, Eugen Bracht

Das Gestade der Vergessenheit
Eugen Bracht

Eugene Bracht was a German painter born in 1842 in Morges and died at the age of 79 in 1921 in Darmstadt. He is mainly known for his romantic landscape paintings. His paintings of the German coasts and dunes revealed him to the general public. Passionate about paleontology, he also developed an attraction for orientalism. In 1880 he made a study trip to Syria, Palestine and Egypt where he found inspiration for his painting Memories of Giza (1883). On his return to Berlin, his Oriental subjects influenced him to experiment with Impressionist painting. In 1898, during the Berliner Secession, he did not join the movement, but he definitively broke with German academism.
He painted many subjects throughout his life. After starting with mainly academic works, he began to paint the German heathlands. After his journey to the Middle-East he began to paint landscapes including more oriental motifs, without falling into European orientalism and its superimposition of clichés. Then he painted mountains and symbolic landscapes tending towards Impressionism. He begins the 20th century painting industrial drawings and later returns to a more academic painting, less avant-garde.

The atmospheric solitude of The Shore of Oblivion

The Shore of Oblivion is a painting by Eugene Bracht, very representative of German symbolism. He painted 8 versions between 1889 and 1916, with at least two of them preserved today. Although there are few variations between the versions, it is a bit like the 5 versions of Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead, another major work of German symbolism. In fact the two paintings are very closely linked since Emperor Wilhelm II received one of the versions (the second known) and hung it next to Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead.
The painting depicting a desolate shoreline marks by its loneliness. It leaves its interpretation quite free, but the theme of death, almost unheard of in Bracht’s work, is quite heavy.

Original version, 1889 – Oil on canvas, 139 cm × 257 cm; Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt

The Shore of Oblivion 1911

Second version, 1911 – Oil on canvas, 140.5 cm × 241 cm; Westphalian State Museum of Art and Cultural History

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