"Moreau's figures are ambiguous; it is hardly possible to distinguish at the first glance which of two lovers is the man, which the woman; all his characters are linked by subtle bonds of relationship... lovers look as though they were related, brothers as though they were lovers, men have the faces of virgins, virgins the faces of youths; the symbols of Good and Evil are entwined and equivocally confused." (Mario Praz, "The Romantic Agony", 1930)
6 April 1826: Today, 187 years ago, the symbolist painter Gustave Moreau was born in Paris. Moreau's sujet circles around rather erotically charged and algolagniac religious and mythological motifs, from Salomé and St Sebastian to Perseus and Pasiphaë.
|Gustave Moreau: "Samson and Delilah" (1882)|
Creating more than 8.000 paintings and drawings, Moreau was influenced by Medieval and Renaissance art, as well as the 19th century's imagination of Oreintal pomp. His concern was not to illustrate events but sensations, but dreamy states, piqueing the senses with awe, shiver and temptation - no wonder he was found to be quite an inspiration by contemporary poets and writers.
Shaping the succeeding art movements of Fauvism and Surrealism decisively, by concept, inspiration and directly by teaching at the Académie des beaux-arts - Matisse was one of his students there - Moreau is still closely associated with the imagery created by the poète maudits of all regional provenances.
A quite comprehensive showcase of Moreau's work can be found on:
and more on