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Nymphs and Satyr, by William Bouguereau (Detail)
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French painter, sculptor & watercolorist
born April 6 1826- died April 18 1898


Friend of:
Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Eugene Fromentin (1820-1876)

Student of:

Teacher of:
Pierre Bonnaud (1865-1930), Francois Charles Cachoud (1866-1943), Edgar Maxence (1871-1954)

Officer of:
Legion d'Honneur

Knight of:
Legion d'Honneur

Professor at:
Ecole des Beaux-Arts

Biographical Information

MOREAU, GUSTAVE (1826-1898), French painter, was born in Paris on the 6th of April 1826. His father was an architect, who, discerning the lad's promise, sent him to study under Picot, a second-rate artist but clever teacher. The only influence which really affected Moreau's development was that of the painter Chasseriau (1819-1857), with whom he was intimate when they both lived in the Rue Frochot, and of whom we find reminiscences even in his later works. Moreau's first picture was a Pieta (1852), now in the cathedral at Angouleme. In the Salon of 1853 he exhibited a Scene from the Song of Songs (now in the Dijon Museum) and the Death of Darius (in the Moreau Gallery, Paris), both conspicuously under the influence of Chasseriau. To the Great Exhibition of 1855 he sent the Athenians with the Minotaur (in the Museum at Bourg-en-Bresse) and Moses putting off his Sandals within Sight of the Promised Land.

Oedipus and the Sphinx, begun in 1862, and exhibited at the Salon of 1864, marked the beginning of his best period, during which he chose his subjects from history, religion, legend and fancy. In 1865 he exhibited Medea and Jason and The Young Man and Death; in 1866, the Head of Orpheus (in, the Luxembourg Gallery); Hesiod and the Muse, a drawing; and The Pen, a drawing; Prometheus (in the Moreau Gallery); Jupiter and Europa, a Pieta, and The Saint and the Poet, in 1869. After working in obscurity for seven years, he reappeared at the Salon in 1876 with Hercules and the Hydra, Saint Sebastian, Salome Dancing (presented to the Luxembourg by M. Hayem); and in 1878 with The Sphinx's Riddle solved. Jacob, and Moses on the Nile. Moreau exhibited for the last time at the Salon of 1880, when he contributed Helen and Galatea; to the Great Exhibition of 1889 he again sent the Galatea and The Young Man and Death. He took prize medals at the Salon in 1864, 1865, 1869 and 1878. He was made knight of the Legion of Honour in 1875 and officer in 1883. He succeeded Delaunay as professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and his teaching was highly popular. When he died, on the 18th of April 1898, he bequeathed to the state his house, containing about 8000 pictures, water-colours, cartoons and drawings, which form the Moreau Gallery, one of the best organized collections in Paris, arranged by M. Rupp, his executor, and, together with Delaunay and Fromentin, one of his closest friends.

Select Bibliography:
  • Flat, Paul. Le Musee Gustave Moreau. Paris, 1900.
  • Lacambre, Genevieve. Discoveries Gustave Moreau. Harry N Abrams; (June 1999).
  • Mathieu, Pierre-Louis. Gustave Moreau. Flammarion; (October 1996).
  • Mathieu, Pierre-Louis. Gustave Moreau: The Watercolors. Hudson Hills Pr; (November 1985).
  • Mathieu, Pierre-Louis. Gustave Moreau : with a catalogue of the finished paintings, watercolors, and drawings. New York Graphic Society; 1st U.S. ed. edition.
  • Paladilhe, Jean. Gustave Moreau. Thames and Hudson.
  • Renan, Ary. Moreau. Paris, 1900.

    Source: Entry on the artist in the 1911 Edition Encyclopedia.

  •    Artist Portraits

       Artist Letters

       Books and Related Products About This Artist

    The Apparition

    Oil on canvas
    54.2 x 44.5 cm
    (21.34" x 17.52")
    Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachussetts, United States)

    Added: 2012-04-13
    Hercules and the Hydra

    Oil on canvas
    175 x 153 cm
    (68.9" x 60.24")
    Institute of Art (Chicago, Illinois, United States)

    Added: 2003-04-24

    Watercolour and gouache on pap
    21.5 x 13.5 cm
    (8.46" x 5.31")
    Private collection

    Added: 2003-04-24
    Saint Georges

    Translated title: St. George
    45 x 30 cm
    (17.72" x 11.81")
    Private collection

    Added: 2003-06-02

    Coll. Beugniet - Coll. Chavandier de Valdrôme

    The Chimera

    Oil on wood
    33.02 x 27.3 cm
    (13" x 10¾")
    Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachussetts, United States)

    Added: 2012-04-13

    Alternate title: Birth of Venus
    Watercolor with white gouache
    24.4 x 14.7 cm
    (9.61" x 5.79")
    Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachussetts, United States)

    Added: 2012-06-08
    Oedipus and the Sphinx

    Oil on canvas
    206 x 105 cm
    (81.1" x 41.34")
    Metropolitan Museum of Art (Manhattan, New York, United States)

    Added: 2001-09-26

    Oil on canvas
    204 x 121.5 cm
    (80.31" x 47.83")
    Musee d'Orsay (Paris, France)

    Added: 2001-09-26
    Hesiod and the Muses

    Oil on canvas
    236 x 155 cm
    (92.91" x 61.02")
    Gustave Moreau Museum (Paris, France)

    Added: 2001-09-26

    Oil on canvas
    205 x 122 cm
    (80.71" x 48.03")
    Gustave Moreau Museum (Paris, France)

    Added: 2001-09-26