At the heart of symbolism

Salvation off the beaten track


Self-portrait at 24

The being under stress

All his life, Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) remained prisoner of the form and the continuous line. He found his liberating strength in colour only, notably under the influence of Delacroix.

And yet, so many possibilities lay dormant inside him. They only came out in his studies and personal works as well as in his teaching at the Fine Arts school. All his students praise a liberating master... except for himself. Besides, his favourite student, Rouault, became the first curator of Gustave Moreau's studio, transformed into a museum and left to the State after the death of the painter.

The mind ascendancy was too strong and the sensitiveness too delicate to broadly open the gates to his potential. Therefore, he stood by ready made images of ancestral myths and amassing details of an exotic ornamentation, which were freezing the true images and sensitiveness.

Gustave Moreau used to live in a constant tension between a severe intellectualism and a far too emotional sensitiveness. He very rarely plunged into the obscure world to look for light. He refused confrontation and, firstly, with himself. Just the opposite of Eugène Delacroix, who accepted all of his passions and aspirations. You only need to compare their respective versions of the “fight of Jacob with the Angel” to understand the whole singularity of Gustave Moreau.

One thing Gustave Moreau lacked was the relaxed attitude of Odilon Redon.

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