Ferdinand Hodler (March 14, 1853 – May 19, 1918); one of the best-known Swiss painters of the 19th century. His early works were portraits, landscapes, and genre paintings in a realistic style. Later, he adopted a personal form of symbolism he called "parallelism".

Hodler was born in Bern, the eldest of 6 children. His father, Jean Hodler, made a meager living as a carpenter; his mother, Marguerite (née Neukomm), was from a peasant family. By the time Hodler was 8 years old, he had lost his father and 2 younger brothers to tuberculosis. His mother remarried, to a decorative painter named Gottlieb Schüpach who had 5 children from a previous marriage. The birth of additional children brought the size of Hodler's family to thirteen.

The family's finances were poor, and 9-year-old Hodler was put to work assisting his stepfather in painting signs and other commercial projects. After the death of his mother from tuberculosis in 1867, Hodler was sent to Thun to apprentice with a local painter, Ferdinand Sommer. From Sommer, Hodler learned the craft of painting conventional Alpine landscapes, typically copied from prints, which he sold in shops and to tourists.

In 1871, at 18, Hodler traveled on foot to Geneva to start his career as a painter....

The works of Hodler's early maturity consisted of landscapes, figure compositions, and portraits, treated with a vigorous realism. In 1884, Hodler met Augustine Dupin (1852–1909), who became his companion and model for the next several years. Their son, Hector Hodler—who would found the World Esperanto Association in 1908—was born in 1887.

...In the last decade of the 19th century his work evolved to combine influences from several genres including symbolism and art nouveau. In 1890 he completed Night, a work that marked Hodler's turn toward symbolist imagery.

...Hodler developed a style he called "parallelism" that emphasized the symmetry and rhythm he believed formed... (
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