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The Swiss artist Ferdinand Holder's fame today rests on enigmatic works in which he explored themes such as the universality of human experience and the inherent, but inexplicable order of the natural world. Hodler's influence was widespread, felt in the Vienna Secessionist and Jugendstil movements and in the work of such artists as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka; he was also key in the development of Expressionism during the first decade of the twentieth century.

Hodler's symbolist images went beyond the purely decorative and sensuous aspects of Art Nouveau by translating inner feelings into external gestures. The theme of "The Sacred Hour" occupied him from about 1901 to 1911. We know of several versions in various degrees of completion. Here, two women—painted from the same model and dressed identically in eurythmic dance costumes—sit in an artificial landscape, their mannered poses mirror images of each other.

Eurythmic dancing was an improvisational style transforming visual sensations, emotions, and ideas into rhythmic body movements. Hodler incorporated eurythmic concepts into his personal philosophy of Parallelism, which held that the inner nature of humanity is most effectively expressed by repetitive patterns, symbolizing the mystical order that underlies all of nature. The brightly colored, repetitive forms of "The Sacred Hour" are a perfect manifestation of Hodler's Parallelism.

Details

  • Title: The Sacred Hour (Die Heilige Stunde)
  • Creator: Ferdinand Hodler (Swiss, b.1853, d.1918)
  • Date Created: Circa 1907 - Circa 1911
  • Location Created: Switzerland
  • Physical Dimensions: 72 x 89 in. (182.9 x 226.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Edwin and Virginia Irwin Memorial, Fanny Bryce Lehmer Endowment, Mr. and Mrs. Harry S. Leyman Endowment, and Museum Purchase: Gift of Mary Hanna, Mrs. J. Louis Ransohoff, and Mary E. Johnston, by exchange
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Accession Number: 1990.1294

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