Still Water by Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921). 1894. Oil on canvas, 54 x 105 cm. Belevdere Gallerie, Vienna.

"Khnopff's Stilles Wasser, Motionless Water, 1894 (p. 95), was among the works on show in the 1st Exhibition at the Secession in 1898. The unusually wide painting is focused on a section of a mirror-like water surface. The water mirror reflects more of the trees on the bank than is represented by the painted stretch of bank itself. The bright strip of sky, which also works as a structural highlight in terms of the composition, is visible only as a reflection in the water. It is reasonable to assume that this work exerted considerable influence on the artistic community in Vienna as a few years later both the pictorial motif and the composition formula are common property. Gustav Klimt, Wilhelm Bernatzik and Carl Moll all painted several pictures with similar titles between 1899 and 1901. . . Still waters run deep indeed at the end of the 19th century: they signify a state of deep abstraction, repose and nostalgia; they are a mirror of the soul, and the depths that are divined below the surface join forces with the world above to amalgamate into a shared secret: neither the depths of the water nor — metaphorically speaking — those of the soul are ever to be plumbed." — Andrea Domesle, pp. 59-60.

References

Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921). Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2004. no. 44.

Domesle, Andrea. "The Motif Repertoire of Symbolism" Intermezzo: Gustav Klimt und Wien un 1900/Gustav Klimt and Vienna around 1900. Salzburg: Museum der Moderne Rupertinum, 2004. 58-62.


Aesthetes and Decadences Paintings by Aesthetes and Decadents Fernand Khnopff

Last modified 14 November 2005