German, 1842 - 1922
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From his childhood Keller showed precocious tendencies for the arts, and did sketches and studies from life. At the age of twenty, he often visited the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe where he studied under Johann Wilhelm Schirmer. In 1866 he travelled to Switzerland and France, and then spent two years in Rome, from 1867 to 1869, where he met Anselm Feuerbach. He brought back from Italy numerous studies of landscapes and people, which he later used in his great historical compositions. Being above all a painter of history, he was nicknamed the 'Makart badois' after the Austrian artist Hans Makart, who was celebrated in this field.
It was only in 1900 that he was influenced by Arnold Böcklin and, like him, inspired by themes taken from ancient mythology. His landscapes, romantic in spirit, were animated by rustic characters who played the flute by the edge of a lake on which floated swans, and which was surrounded by thick forests. A magical atmosphere emanates from these evocations of the myth of Narcissus or the cult of the dead, like that which he called 'The Tomb of Böcklin', where a mysterious door, surrounded by black cypress trees, appears in a misty valley enveloped in melancholy. It is a transposition of 'The Island of the Dead' by Böcklin, and a token of the admiration he had for his master.
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