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Symbolism

Symbolism emerged in late 19th century Europe, propelled by the publication of a manifesto by poet, essayist and art critic Jean Moréas’ in Le Figaro in 1886. What initially began as a literary movement, symbolism was quickly adopted among a younger generation of painters. Artists favoured the expression of an idea over the realistic description of the natural world, believing that art should reflect an emotion rather than represent the world in an objective, scientific manner. Love, death and anguish are recurring motifs within symbolist art and major proponents include Gustav Moreau (1826 - 1898) and Odilon Redon (1840 – 1916). Within the movement artists and writers prized the role of the imagination with works often depicting imaginary, dreamlike worlds populated by monstrous creatures and mysterious figures.

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