(b Paris, 6 Apr. 1826; d Paris, 18 Apr. 1898). French painter, one of the leading Symbolist artists. He was a close friend of Théodore Chassériau and was influenced by his exotic Romanticism, but Moreau went far beyond him in his feeling for the bizarre and developed a style that is highly distinctive in subject and technique. Typically his pictures are mystically intense images treated with an extraordinary sensuousness, his paint encrusted and jewel-like. Often the subjects are religious or mythological (Orpheus was a favourite theme), but sometimes they more vaguely evoke long-dead civilizations. Although he had some success at the Salon, Moreau was highly sensitive to criticism and for long periods did not exhibit his work. He had no need to sell his paintings, as he had private means, and much of his life was spent in seclusion.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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