Madame Valentine Gode-Darel on Her Sickbed
(1853 - 1918)
Oil on canvas
Hodler made over 200 drawings and paintings of his lover, Madame Valentine Gode-Darel, when she was diagnosed with cancer and confined to bed. Before 1912, these potraits were purely pictorial conceptions expressed in terms of colour and composition. Thereafter they betrayed a sensitivity and fascination with the inevitable, and an implicable lucidity as to the development of her malady: the desire to immortalise a fleeting moment, a final attempt to possess his beloved. Hodler's attitude was not, however, dominated by despair. Fully aware of what he was living through and creating, he wrote: 'To accept death, in full awareness, and with all one's will - that is something which can give rise to great works of art'