Gustave Moreau (1826-1898)

Self-Portrait, 1850

Gustave Moreau was a French artist born in Paris. Considered by some to be the early leader of the Symbolist and Surrealist movements, Moreau was inspired by the Romantic artists. He studied under Picot and also under Chasseriau whom it is rumored became his lover. Moreau mainly painted historical, mythological and religious themes, and tended to paint his ideas rather than real life figures.

Orpheus, 1865


Moreau created his unique compositions in both oil and watercolor. Art critics have called his work dream-like epics, and have even hinted that they were created while he was on the influence of opium. Moreau’s oeuvre consisted of mythological creatures and scenes from classical Greek stories, beautifully executed in a post-Romantic, pre-Surrealist style.

Hesiod and the Muse

Oedipus and the Sphynx

The Unicorns

During his career, he won a number of prizes at the salons and was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1875. After 1886, Moreau discontinued showing his art at the salons or elsewhere. Moreau became a professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1891 where he taught a number of famous painters such as Henri Matisse.



Europa and the Bull

Throughout his career, Moreau strived to create a style that proved to be matched by no other. It is even said that he refused to sell his paintings to anyone but his close friends. It is also said that due to his perfectionist nature, Moreau left a number of unfinished pieces, now housed in museums or perhaps even in unknown locations.

Salome and the Head of John

In many ways, Moreau’s work was an echo of Renaissance art of the past and also a precursor for Fantasy artists today. Though his name may not ring as familiar as many other artists, Moreau certainly left a mark on the art world and influenced generations of painters to come.

Jupiter and Semele

Poete Voyageur

Perseus and Andromeda

Today, Moreau’s work is housed all over Europe, especially at the museum in Paris that bears his name, located in his former studio. Still wondering about an interesting Symbolist painting hanging in your home? Contact us… it could be by Gustave Moreau.