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The Cover
March 18, 1998

Venus Anadyomene

JAMA. 1998;279(11):814. doi:10.1001/jama.279.11.814

Enormously popular during his lifetime, the Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901) had his reputation demolished by art critics almost as soon as he was dead. Only a few years earlier national celebrations in Germany and Switzerland had honored him on his 70th birthday. Monographs and articles praised his work. But by 1905 the influential German critic and art historian Julius Meier-Graefe was condemning him as a "dangerous enemy of art and of the spiritual life of the people" (Selz P. German Expressionist Painting. Berkeley: University of California Press; 1974). Even a present-day critic such as John Canaday could write as recently as 1981 that "patience and tolerance" are required in viewing even some of Böcklin's most serious work if one is not to dismiss it as "gross, obvious, or even laughable." But, if one can get by these "disastrous shortcomings," one can find merits otherwise obscured (Canaday J. Mainstreams of Modern Art. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston; 1981).

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