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Art and Images in Psychiatry |

The Tempest

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64(1):11-12. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.64.1.11.
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After dinner, Alma Mahler (1879-1964) invited Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) to join her at the piano. She played Isolde's final song of transfiguration from her favorite opera, Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, when Isolde sings over the body of Tristan and joins him in death.2(pp147-151) Kokoschka listened to her play and watched her with rapt attention (epigraph). He had been invited to dinner by the artist Carl Moll, Alma Mahler's stepfather, who was hoping that Kokoschka might paint her portrait. That evening, April 12, 1912, was the beginning of their passionate affair. The opera's archetypal theme of illicit love and death accompanied them throughout the stormy relationship that followed.

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Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980), Austrian. The Tempest, 1914. Oil on canvas, 71¼ × 87 in. Kunstmuseum (http://www.kunstmuseumbasel.ch/galleryDetail/20-jahrhundert/kokoschka-oskar/01/show.html), Basel, Switzerland/The Bridgeman Art Library. © 2006 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ProLitteris, Zurich.

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