Hugo Simberg
On the River of Life


Oil on wood.

22,0 cm x 12,0 cm.

On the River of Life (1896) by Hugo Simberg (1873–1917) was originally created as an ex libris for the artist’s friend, bookseller Viktor Hoving. It depicts a white-clad figure steering a boat along a winding river. Similarities may be found between this work and the painting Isle of the Dead (1883) by the Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin, where an oarsman can be seen transporting a coffin to the afterlife. In Simberg’s picture, the boat carries books instead of a corpse, making it apt for Hoving’s bookplate.