The synthesis of literature and art in the late nineteenth century manifests in Symbolism art. It moved away from gritty and realistic interpretations of the world to show idealized dreamworlds and mythological settings. Religion, spirituality, sexuality, and romanticism all helped inspire this movement.
As one might determine from the name, metaphors and symbols were prevalent in the works, and messages were carried across in indirect ways. The Symbolist Manifesto was a work describing the movement that was published in 1886 in a French newspaper. More than simply an artistic movement, the style was described in that the “goal was not the ideal, but whose sole purpose was to express itself for the sake of being expressed.” Poets like Baudelaire and Verlaine were named at the beginning of the movement.
John William Waterhouse’s works (that we looked at yesterday) can certainly be included in among those of symbolist painters, but there are many others worth mentioning as well.
1826 – 1898
Hesiod and the Muse (1891)
1862 – 1918
Water Serpents 2 (1907)
1862 – 1942
The Love Potion 1888
There is a wide range of art that can be categorized under the Symbolism movement, and all are worth checking out. Don’t forget to look at some of the poets and philosophers from the movement too!