'I am dominated by one thing, an irresistible, burning attraction towards abstraction. The expres- sion of human feelings and the passions of man certainly interest me deeply, but I am less concerned with expressing these motions of the soul and mind than to render visible, so to speak, the inner flashes of unknown origins, which have something divine in their apparent insignificance and reveal magic horizons, I could even call them divine, when they are transposed into the marvellous effects of pure plastic art.'

It cannot be emphasized too much that these 'inner flashes' do not necessarily depend on the sublime character of the chosen 'subject'. Moreau, as distinct from Ingres and a good many academicians who seemed convinced that a sublime 'subject' necessarily implied a sublime work, he went so far as to say, 'Inspiration is never to be found in the subject, it is in the soul of the artist and the choice of subject matter is unimportant. — José Pierre, p. 94.

The Artist



Cassou, Jean. The Concise Encylopedia of Symbolism. Trans. Susie Saunders. Chartwell Books, n.d. [Original French edition: Paris: Editions Aimery Somogy, 1979.]

Jullian, Philippe. The Symbolists. Trans. Mary Anne Stevens. London: Phaidon, 1973.

Kaplan, Julius. Gustave Moreau. Exhibition catalogue. Greenwich, Connecticut: New York Graphic Society, 1974.

Paladilhe, Jean, and José Pierre. Gustave Moreau. Trans. Bettina Wadia. New York: Praeger, 1972.

[This volume actually contains two separate studies, the first Paladilhe's "Gustave Moreau: His Life and Work" (pp. 1-72); the second Pierre's "Gustave Moreau through the eyes of succeeding generations" (pp. 73-171). The two authors do not always agree!

Created 10 April 2008

Last modified 18 October 2021