Gustav Moreau and Gnosticism

Lucy M. Grace Ellem

Abstract


Gustav Moreau, a French Symbolist artist who lived from 1826 to 1898, believed that art was "the language of God", a visible language that opened, in his words, "truly magical, I shall even say divine, vistas". Moreau devoted his life to this divine mission or art. His search for spiritual enlightenment let him to investigate the religious expression of many lands and cultures - Egypt, Greece, India, the Judeo-Christian and Neo-Platonic traditions, the occult sciences and Gnosticism. This paper is concerned with Moreau's Gnostic beliefs, and will argue that underlying his syncretism was a constant and fundamental dualism that spanned Moreau's entire oeuvre.

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