Cover image for Gustave Moreau : between epic and dream
Gustave Moreau : between epic and dream
Lacambre, Geneviève.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Chicago, Ill. : Art Institute of Chicago in association with Princeton University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 308 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 32 cm
General Note:
Published in conjunction with the exhibition "Gustave Moreau, between epic and dream", organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, the Réunion des musées nationaux, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; exhibition dates: Sept. 29, 1998-Jan. 4, 1999, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; Feb. 13-Apr. 25, 1999, Art Institute of Chicago; June 1-Aug. 22, 1999, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND553.M8 L25 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) was one of the most influential and idiosyncratic painters of the nineteenth century. He developed a reputation as an artistic hermit, committed to a highly personal vision of painting that combined myth, mysticism, history, and a fascination with the bizarre and exotic. Yet Moreau was also a prominent public figure in the Paris art world, winning praise for exhibits at the Salon, becoming a respected teacher at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and exerting a powerful influence on Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, and the schools of Symbolism and Surrealism. This book, published to coincide with a spectacular international exhibition that marks the centenary of Moreau's death, presents a wide range of the artist's most famous and beautiful works along with penetrating essays and catalogue entries that explain his unique achievements in all their intellectual complexity and visual richness.

The volume reproduces and describes in detail more than 200 of Moreau's works, ranging from such well-known paintings as Orpheus and The Apparition (one of his many treatments of Salome and the beheaded John the Baptist) to lesser known but revealing watercolors, drawings, and sculptures. Two particularly important paintings-- Oedipus and the Sphinx and Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra --are the focus of longer descriptions that cast light on Moreau's working methods. Geneviève Lacambre, Director of the Musée Gustave Moreau in Paris, introduces the volume and contributes an essay about Moreau's passionate interest in the "exoticism" of other cultures, particularly those of Persia and India. Marie-Laure de Contenson describes the artist's powerful attraction to medieval art and aesthetics. Larry Feinberg shows that Moreau was deeply influenced by the Italian Renaissance and, in particular, Leonardo and Michelangelo. Douglas Druick writes about Moreau's evocative symbolic language, which drew on unique reinterpretations of mythical figures and events to convey the artist's anxieties about the immorality and materialism of his age.

This is a powerfully written and visually stunning record of the creativity and exquisite craftsmanship of Moreau's distinctive contributions to nineteenth-century art.

Author Notes

Geneviève Lacambre is Director of the Musée Gustave Moreau in Paris. Larry J. Feinberg is the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Curator in the Department of European Painting at The Art Institute of Chicago. Marie-Laure de Contenson is Curator at the Musée Gustave Moreau. Douglas Druick is Searle Curator of European Painting and Prince Trust Curator of Prints and Drawings at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This impressive volume, which accompanies the retrospective exhibition of Moreau's work at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, constitutes a major addition to the growing bibliography on this important but marginalized 19th-century French painter. However, the book seems to have been targeted primarily toward specialists; other than a provocatively wide-ranging essay by Douglas Druick, which relates Moreau's career to larger artistic and cultural trends of the fin de siecle, the book deals principally in minutiae. The other introductory essays by Larry J. Feinberg, Marie-Laure de Contenson, and Genevieve Lacambre offer little more than laundry lists of Moreau's pictorial sources among medieval, Renaissance, and "exotic" (i.e., non-Western) prototypes. The catalog entries, most by Lacambre, are at once painstaking and tedious. Instead of sustained iconographical or stylistic analysis, they focus on issues such as dating and provenance and on correlating individual works with entries in the various manuscripts and inventories preserved in the Musee Gustave Moreau in Paris. Virtually no attempt is made to situate Moreau's achievement within a larger social or political continuum other than Lacambre's repeated (and rather obvious) associations of the artist's "decadent" themes with the trauma of the Franco-Prussian War. Undergraduates through faculty. A. C. Shelton Ohio State University