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Gustave Moreau

Paris 1826 - 1898
Price range
0 – 3,000,000 USD
Gustave Moreau was a major artist in the history of French Symbolism.

Originally a literary movement initiated by Baudelaire and Poe and continued by the poets Mallarmé and Verlaine, the Symbolists aimed to reveal the oneiric and sometimes decadent spirituality beneath the surface of reality.

Moreau’s early works were influenced by the romantics Delacroix and Chassériau. His first success, Oedipus and the Sphinx, won a medal at the Salon of 1864. The, no doubt, confused reaction of audiences may be judged from the ironic comments of an early critic: “like a pastiche of Mantegna created by a German student who relaxes from his painting by reading Schopenhauer.” Today the influence of Mantegna seems less obvious than the debt to Ingres’ (1780–1867) version of the subject, where Moreau’s more exotic treatment subverts the hallowed tradition of French classicism without abandoning it. He noted he was concerned with the opposition between good and evil, male and female, and physicality and spirituality.

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Selected artworks

Top 3 auction prices

1,080,000 $
1,254,166 $
2,750,000 $


The sales are: Christie’s New York – 19 Apr 2005 lot 178, Christie’s London – 18 Nov 2004 lot 21 (677,250 GBP), and Sotheby’s New York – 24 Oct 1989 lot 83.
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Notable exhibitions

Waddesdon, Waddesdon Manor, Gustave Moreau: The Fables, 16 June – 17 October 2021. Curated by Juliet Carey.

Paris, Grand Palais, Gustave Moreau: Between Epic and Dream, 29 September 1998 – 4 January 1999; travelled to Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 13 February – 25 April 1999; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1 June – 22 August 1999. Curated by Geneviève Lacambre, Larry Feinberg, Douglas W. Druick and Rebecca A. Rabinow.

Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art, Gustave Moreau, 21 March – 14 May 1995; travelled to Kyoto, National Museum of Modern Art, 23 May – 9 July 1995. Curated by Julius Kaplan.

Florence, Palazzo Vecchio, Gustave Moreau, 1826–1898, 18 March – 4 June 1989; travelled to Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti, 25 June – 30 September 1989. Curated by Geneviève Lacambre, Raffaele Monti and Carlo Sisi.

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gustave Moreau, 23 July – 1 September 1974; travelled to San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 14 September – 3 November 1974. Curated by Julius Kaplan.


Books on Gustave Moreau

Peter Cooke, Gustave Moreau, History Painting, Spirituality and Symbolism, New Haven, 2014.

Pierre-Louis Mathieu, Gustave Moreau: Monographie et Nouveau Catalogue de l’Oeuvre Achevé, Paris, 1998.

Ary Renan, Gustave Moreau, 1826-1898, Paris, 1900.

Further explore
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