The Artist Birthday Series

Gustave Moreau

Today’s Artist Birthday: Gustave Moreau

Gustave Moreau (6 April 1826 – 18 April 1898) was a French Symbolist painter whose main emphasis was the illustration of biblical and mythological figures. As a painter, Moreau appealed to the imaginations of some Symbolist writers and artists, indirectly bringing the Surrealist movement into existence.

Gustave Moreau, painter and teacher who enlightened the minds of the Fauvists and inspiring the Surrealists
Gustave Moreau, painter and teacher who enlightened the minds of the Fauvists and inspiring the Surrealists

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 and became a friend of Théodore Chassériau, whose work strongly influenced his own. Moreau had a 25-year personal relationship, possibly romantic, with Adelaide-Alexandrine Dureux, a woman whom he drew several times.

"Venus Terbit Dari Laut," 1866 by Gustave Moreau - model most probably Adelaide Alexandrine Durex, Moreau's longtime muse and possible lover.
“Venus Terbit Dari Laut,” 1866 by Gustave Moreau – model most probably Adelaide-Alexandrine Dureux, Moreau’s longtime muse and possible lover.

His first painting was a Pietà which is now located in the cathedral at Angoulême.

"Pietà," 1853 by Gustave Moreau
“Pietà,” 1853 by Gustave Moreau

He showed “A Scene from the Song of Songs” and “The Death of Darius” in the Salon of 1853. In 1853 he contributed “Athenians Being Delivered To The Minotaur” and “Moses Putting Off his Sandals within Sight of the Promised Land” to the Great Exhibition.

"Athenians Being Delivered To The Minotaur," 18__ by Gustave Moreau
“Athenians Being Delivered To The Minotaur,” 1852/3 by Gustave Moreau

Oedipus and the Sphinx, one of his first symbolist paintings, was exhibited at the Salon of 1864. Moreau quickly gained a reputation for eccentricity. One commentator said Moreau’s work was “like a pastiche of Mantegna created by a German student who relaxes from his painting by reading Schopenhauer”. The painting currently resides in the permanent collection at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"Oedipus And The Sphinx," 1864 by Gustave Moreau
“Oedipus And The Sphinx,” 1864 by Gustave Moreau

Moreau became a professor at Paris’ École des Beaux-Arts in 1891 and among his many students were fauvist painters Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault. Jules Flandrin, Theodor Pallady and Léon Printemps also studied with Moreau.

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Detail of one of Moreau’s self portraits

Moreau died of stomach cancer, in Paris in 1898, and was buried there in the Cimetière de Montmartre.

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During his lifetime, Moreau produced more than 8,000 paintings, watercolors and drawings, many of which are on display in Paris’ Musée national Gustave Moreau at 14 rue de la Rochefoucauld (9th arrondissement). The museum is in his former workshop, and began operation in 1903. André Breton famously used to “haunt” the museum and regarded Moreau as a precursor of Surrealism.

The stunningly beautiful Musee Gustave Moreau, in Paris
The stunningly beautiful Musee Gustave Moreau, in Paris

(Edited from: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Moreau)


 

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