Christie's x Atlas Obscura: Decoding a Symbolist Painter - Atlas Obscura Experiences
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Christie's x Atlas Obscura: Decoding a Symbolist Painter

1 hour
$8 per device
See Dates
$8 per device
$8 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

In an exciting new partnership, Christie's and Atlas Obscura will be working with prominent art specialists to highlight unique pieces for auction and the stories behind them. From exploring ancient astrology books to decoding the symbolism found in paintings, we'll have an opportunity to learn from the best in the business.

On June 8, Christie’s Specialist of 19th Century European Art, Laura Mathis, will tell us about the painter Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach (1851-1913) and help us decode the symbolism in his painting Sphinx by the Sea, which will be auctioned online through June 17.

Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach ranks among the most eccentric artists of the 19th century. His work is best described as symbolist in style, though Diefenbach worked alone rather than being part of any particular school of painting and primarily used his art as a vehicle to promote his own ideals. After visiting the Sphinx of Giza on a trip to Egypt in 1896 - 1897, Diefenbach became fixated on the sphinx as a representative of the unsolved mysteries of life. Diefenbach even planned to build a commune and reform school in Egypt to be housed in a building in the shape of a sphinx, though this never came to fruition. The motif began to appear regularly in his art, including his best-known painting Per aspera ad astra, a monumental 34-panel frieze, and Sphinx by the Sea, the work we will be exploring in depth.

About Your Host

Christie’s, the world's leading art business, is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.

What Else You Should Know

Once registered, you can access the Zoom room for this experience through your confirmation email or Eventbrite account. 

This online experience is part of Atlas Obscura’s Wonder From Home initiative. At Atlas Obscura, our mission has always been to inspire wonder and curiosity about the incredible world we all share. Now, more than ever, there’s a need to stay connected—not only to our sense of wonder, but to each other. Follow and share the hashtag #wonderfromhome for inspiring stories, more incredible online experiences, and live streams with the Atlas Obscura community.

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