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Gustave Moreau

Aug - 16 - 2013

Gustave MoreauGustave Moreau(6 April 1826 – 18 April 1898) French painter, one of the leading Symbolist artists. The painter’s approach was initially academic and then symbolist, before becoming surprisingly modern and even almost abstract in his last years…

The artist worked mainly mythological and biblical themes. As a painter, Moreau appealed to the imaginations of some Symbolist writers and artists.

Moreau Pieta

Moreau-Pietà (1852).

Moreau was born in Paris. His father, Louis Jean Marie Moreau, was an architect, who recognized his talent. His mother was Adele Pauline des Moutiers. Moreau initially studied under the guidance of François-Édouard Picot.  He was a pupil of Chassériau and was influenced by his master’s exotic Romanticism, but Moreau went far beyond him in his feeling for the bizarre and developed a style that is highly distinctive in subject and technique. Moreau had a 25-year personal relationship, possibly romantic, with Adelaide-Alexandrine Dureux, a woman whom he drew several times.[1] His first painting was a Pietà which is now located in the cathedral at Angoulême. He showed A Scene from the Song of Songs and The Death of Darius in the Salon of 1853. In 1853 he contributed Athenians with the Minotaur and Moses Putting Off his Sandals within Sight of the Promised Land to the Great Exhibition.

Oedipus and the Sphinx, one of his first symbolist paintings, was exhibited at the Salon of 1864(The painting is protected by New York’s Metropolitan Museum.).

His preference was for mystically intense images evoking long-dead civilizations and mythologies, treated with an extraordinary sensuousness, his paint encrusted and jewel-like. Although he had some success at the Salon, he had no need to court this as he had private means, and much of his life was spent in seclusion. In 1892 he became a professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and proved an inspired teacher, bringing out his pupils’ individual talents rather than trying to impose ideas on them. His pupils included Marquet and Matisse, but his favorite was Rouault, who became the first curator of the Moreau Museum in Paris (the artist’s house), which Moreau left to the nation on his death. The bulk of his work is preserved there.

Resources on the Internet

Biography of the English-language Wikipedia

A small biography

The Musée Gustave Moreau

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