Gustave Moreau

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Gustave Moreau

French Symbolist painter, sculptor and watercolorist

Born 4/6/1826 - Died 4/18/1898

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MOREAU, GUSTAVE (1826-1898), French painter, was born in Paris on the 6th of April 1826. His father was an architect, who, discerning the lad's promise, sent him to study under Picot, a second-rate artist but clever teacher. The only influence which really affected Moreau's development was that of the painter Chasseriau (1819-1857), with whom he was intimate when they both lived in the Rue Frochot, and of whom we find reminiscences even in his later works. Moreau's first picture was a Pieta (1852), now in the cathedral at Angouleme. In the Salon of 1853 he exhibited a Scene from the Song of Songs (now in the Dijon Museum) and the Death of Darius (in the Moreau Gallery, Paris), both conspicuously under the influence of Chasseriau. To the Great Exhibition of 1855 he sent the Athenians with the Minotaur (in the Museum at Bourg-en-Bresse) and Moses putting off his Sandals within Sight of the Promised Land.

Oedipus and the Sphinx, begun in 1862, and exhibited at the Salon of 1864, marked the beginning of his best period, during which he chose his subjects from history, religion, legend and fancy. In 1865 he exhibited Medea and Jason and The Young Man and Death; in 1866, the Head of Orpheus (in, the Luxembourg Gallery); Hesiod and the Muse, a drawing; and The Pen, a drawing; Prometheus (in the Moreau Gallery); Jupiter and Europa, a Pieta, and The Saint and the Poet, in 1869. After working in obscurity for seven years, he reappeared at the Salon in 1876 with Hercules and the Hydra, Saint Sebastian, Salome Dancing (presented to the Luxembourg by M. Hayem); and in 1878 with The Sphinx's Riddle solved. Jacob, and Moses on the Nile. Moreau exhibited for the last time at the Salon of 1880, when he contributed Helen and Galatea; to the Great Exhibition of 1889 he again sent the Galatea and The Young Man and Death. He took prize medals at the Salon in 1864, 1865, 1869 and 1878. He was made knight of the Legion of Honour in 1875 and officer in 1883. He succeeded Delaunay as professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and his teaching was highly popular. When he died, on the 18th of April 1898, he bequeathed to the state his house, containing about 8000 pictures, water-colours, cartoons and drawings, which form the Moreau Gallery, one of the best organized collections in Paris, arranged by M. Rupp, his executor, and, together with Delaunay and Fromentin, one of his closest friends.

Select Bibliography:
  • Flat, Paul. Le Musee Gustave Moreau. Paris, 1900.
  • Lacambre, Genevieve. Discoveries Gustave Moreau. Harry N Abrams; (June 1999).
  • Mathieu, Pierre-Louis. Gustave Moreau. Flammarion; (October 1996).
  • Mathieu, Pierre-Louis. Gustave Moreau: The Watercolors. Hudson Hills Pr; (November 1985).
  • Mathieu, Pierre-Louis. Gustave Moreau : with a catalogue of the finished paintings, watercolors, and drawings. New York Graphic Society; 1st U.S. ed. edition.
  • Paladilhe, Jean. Gustave Moreau. Thames and Hudson.
  • Renan, Ary. Moreau. Paris, 1900.

    Source: Entry on the artist in the 1911 Edition Encyclopedia.

  • Personal

    friend of

    student of

    teacher of


    knight of

    • Legion d'Honneur from 1875

    officer of

    • Legion d'Honneur from 1883

    professor at

    • Ecole des Beaux-Arts

    Dear Madam,
    I am deeply moved by your show of sympathy and I thank you for it again from the bottom of my heart.
    Please trust, dear Madam, in my best feelings and deign to accept the homage of my very fond regards.

    Gustave Moreau

    S 7th, 1884

    Image courtesy of Don Kurtz

    Gustave Moreau

    Image courtesy of Don Kurtz

    Image courtesy of Don Kurtz

    Gustave Moreau

    Image courtesy of Don Kurtz

    Added on 13 February, 2010