We seem to be living through apocalyptic times, and the art of the Symbolists such as Arnold Böcklin, fraught with anxiety and foreboding, offers congenial, if not always agreeable, subjects for contemplation at the moment.

In the last decades of the nineteenth century, when Britain was reaching the height of her Imperial power and Germany building up its rival industrial and military strength, Europe was becoming more and more aware of the complexities of human life and the human mind. Sigmund Freud began to publish his hugely influential theories, and poets and artists became increasingly preoccupied with the world of dreams, and the interrelationship of life and death.