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Prints, 20th Century

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Late 19th Century-Early 20th Century
19th Century-20th Century
15 x 10 in. (38.1 x 25.4 cm)

After Gustave Moreau, French, (1826–1898)
Émile Sulpis, French, (1856–1943)

Object Type: PRINTS
Creation Place: Europe, France
Medium and Support: Etching
Accession Number: 84-G-1272
Label for Strategic Ambiguity: The Obscure Nebulous and Vague in Symbolist Prints, La Salle University Art Museum, December 6, 2012- March 1, 2013:

Sulpis takes his design for L’Apparition directly from Gustave Moreau’s painting. Moreau serves as a transitional figure, both a belated romantic and a precocious Symbolist. Moreau was one of the most influential artists for the later pictorial and literary Symbolists. The Symbolists were intrigued by Moreau’s work because it prefigured their own obsession with the realms of imagination and dream. An anti-theatricality, decadence and occultism, inspired by Baudelaire and the Symbolist poets, with whom Moreau was familiar, characterized his work. L’Apparition
depicts a scene from the Gospel of Matthew in which Salome entrances King Herod with her dance, persuading him to give her the head of the imprisoned St. John the Baptist. Moreau’s particular contribution to this narrative is the floating head of St. John. Previous depictions dating back to the medieval period show St. John’s head on a charger. The levitating head and the decorative interior suggest an Oriental mysticism. Moreau draws direct inspiration from the richly decorative fortress of Alhambra in Granada, Spain. These elements add to the creative reimagining of historical scenes that defines Moreau’s oeuvre. This scene depicts Salome as a woman both innocent and seductive. The almost supernatural vision of St. John’s detached head brings to mind the mythical Medusa. The symbolists often incorporated biblical and mythological references in their work, taking them to a new sensual, emotive, dream-like level. Moreau frequently revisited the Salome story. Oscar Wilde drew inspiration for his play Salome (1893) from Joris-Karl Huysmans’s description of Moreau’s painting in Au rebours(884).

Rachel McCay, '10
Emily Levy, '12
Curatorial Interns

Current Location: Storage : Works on Paper : 20x24 : 2.4.47


Strategic Ambiguity: The Obscure, Nebulous, and Vague in Symbolist Prints, Curated by Carmen Vendelin, La Salle University Art Museum, December 6, 2012- March 1, 2013.


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