“We want Realism's wealth of experience and Symbolism's depth of feeling." - Franz Ritter von Stuck

23 April 1863, the German symbolist painter and sculptor Franz Ritter von Stuck was born in Tettenweis in Lower Bavaria.
“We want Realism's wealth of experience and Symbolism's depth of feeling. All art is a problem of balance between two opposites.“ (Cesare Pavese)

Franz von Stuck’s “Sünde” (Sin) from 1893

Symbolism had a tendency to be quite risqué and its variant, the Decadent movement was usually not acceptable in polite society – at least not in plain view. It is all the more remarkable that Symbolist artists and their cousins, the representatives of Art Nouveau of the late 19th and early 20th century, managed to have considerable public success in a society that was superficially determined by rigid moral standards. During the years when Sigmund Freud and his disciples became the archaeologists of the soul, artists like Lovis Corinth, Fernand Khnopff and Félicien Rops paralleled their findings with the depiction of archetypical images and scenes, sometimes of the rather disturbing variant. And almost always with their sujets in the nekkid. Nevertheless, the leading exponents of the movements often became “art princes”, literally, like Franz von Stuck, who was ennobled for his artistic achievements and became a professor of Munich’s prestigious art academy.

Franz von Stuck:"Dancers" (1896)

Heavily influenced by the works of the Swiss symbolist Arnold Böcklin, co-founder of the Munich Secession and walking a thin line between being just pig-headed with artistic freedom and commercial success, von Stuck designed trading cards for Stollwerck’s famous chocolate factory and posters for various public events and some total artworks in the case of public buildings as well as creating works of art that pioneered modernity. His legacy is equally ambiguous. While famous modernists like Kandinsky and Paul Klee studied with him in Munich, he was one of the few artists who did not paint blood and soil and historicist glorifications of war who wasn’t banned during the Third Reich. Quite the reverse, the GröFaZ allegedly loved von Stuck’s paintings and his Reichsmarschall adorned his country estate with his sculptures, along with looted art from all over Europe. After the war, reception and appraisal of Franz von Stuck’s oeuvre fortunately went back to normal and he is cherished as one of the most important Symbolist artists and pointsman for 20th century art.

Franz von Stuck: "Batsheba" (1912)

And more on: