First Future, 1880
etching and aquatint on chine collé, mounted on Bristol board
37.4 x 25.5 cm; plate: 29.7 x 26.7 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 18218)
Klinger’s Symbolist style combined realism and fantasy to evoke mysterious, almost “surreal” allegories of the modern world. In addition to his fame as a painter and sculptor who worked on a monumental scale, Klinger also produced fourteen print cycles, often with dark and brooding themes. "First Future" and "Second Future" are from "Eva und die Zukunft (Eve and the Future)", a set of six etchings and aquatints that deal with original sin and its consequences. The subject of both prints is the inevitable fate of mankind after the Fall. Here the grim choice between "First"and "Second Future" is whether to proceed slowly but surely down an inescapable path towards a waiting tiger, or be harpooned for a quick and untimely end by a ghoulish demon who rides silently on the back of an eel-like fish.