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Article

Rodolphe Rapetti

(b Paris, Dec 7, 1862; d Paris, Jan 1, 1920).

French writer and critic. His fictional work developed rapidly from a naturalist concept of the novel (e.g. Chair molle, Paris, 1885) to a symbolist one (e.g. Etre, Paris, 1888). As an art critic, he played an important role in the first years of Neo-Impressionism. The few pieces that he wrote between 1886 and 1889 placed him in the top rank of contemporary critics and were of considerable influence. He was less interested in analysing the theoretical bases of Neo-Impressionism than in deciphering their implications, stressing the relationship of this new method of painting to Symbolism. He felt that the use by Seurat and his followers of a body of scientific theories on which to base their art was not only an indication of their adherence to the modernity that pervaded the century but also revealed an underlying tendency towards abstraction. At the same time fundamental visual concepts or ‘preconceived sensorial notions’ that had served as the basis of western art were called into question. In this regard, the ‘pictorial concern to interpret the pure phenomenon’ corresponded to the aspiration towards synthesis that marked Symbolism and was ‘in close correlation to contemporary philosophy, biology and physics in denying the existence of objects, declaring matter to be the mere appearance of vibratory movement that is the source of our impressions, our sensations, our ideas’ (...

Article

Charlotte Humphreys

[Bugayev, Boris (Nikolayevich)]

(b Moscow, Oct 26, 1880; d Moscow, Jan 8, 1934).

Russian writer. He was a leading theorist and poet of the Russian Symbolist movement. In Russia Symbolism embraced a whole idealistic philosophy, strongly influenced by the eschatological and mystical teachings of Vladimir Solovyov (1853–1900) and by the belief, at the turn of the century, that Russia was on the threshold of a new era. The second generation of Russian Symbolist writers—Vyacheslav Ivanov, Aleksandr Blok and Andrey Bely—shared Solovyov’s Platonic concept that this world was merely a shadow of another, real, world to be intuitively divined and revealed by the poet. The anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner was a great influence on Bely; anthroposophy was to become an important component of the aesthetics of Russian Symbolism.

Music and rhythm were central to Bely’s lyrical works and theories. He defined music as the essence of reality, describing it as the absolute art form. Poetry was considered to be close to music because rhythm and sound were its prerequisites. Music acquired a deeper, mystical association for Bely, as a force linking the human and the divine and as an indication of universal harmony. His mystical and abstract approach to music, and his idea that the evocation of mood in art was more important than the representation of reality, were particularly relevant to the ...

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Yakovlevich)

(b Moscow, 1873; d Moscow, Oct 9, 1924).

Russian poet and theorist. He is generally seen as the leader of the Russian Symbolist movement in non-visual arts, but he was also closely associated with Symbolist painters and graphic artists through the glossy journals that were mouthpieces for their synthesist philosophy. Thus during 1901–04 he contributed to the literary section of Mir iskusstva (‘World of Art’), and from 1904 to 1909 he was editor of Vesy (‘The scales’); in 1906–07 he wrote for Zolotoye runo (‘Golden fleece’) and during 1909–11 for Apollon, as well as for several literary journals. Becoming aware as a student of the growing ‘decadent’ trend in European poetry he set out consciously in 1893 to lead such a movement in Russia, publishing three small poetry collections in 1894–5 with a schoolfriend, A. Miropolsky-Lang. His translations of European poets such as Paul Verlaine initially brought him more respect than his early poems. Drawing heavily on formal and technical innovations abroad, Bryusov developed a theory of artistic synthesis that emphasized technical precision and control of form over mimetic or theosophical concerns. This attention to detail and emphasis on the aesthetic was symptomatic of the ‘first generation’ of Russian Symbolists, who, under the leadership of Bryusov and Konstantin Bal’mont (...

Article

Saverio Simi de Burgis

(b Cumiana, nr Turin, Aug 13, 1879; d Venice, June 10, 1966).

Italian painter. He began his studies at the Accademia Albertina in Turin where he was a pupil of Giacomo Grosso. His early painted works demonstrate his interest in Symbolism, Eugène Carrière, the bourgeois Intimism of the Nabis (Maurice Denis in particular), the painting of Arnold Böcklin and the references to classical mythology in the work of Franz von Stuck, Hermenegild Anglada Camarasa, Ignacio Zuloaga and Leonardo Bistolfi. After 1906 he lived in Rome for almost 20 years. His initial associations there with Ferruccio Ferrazzi (1891–1978) and Felice Casorati, and subsequent involvement with the Secessione romana, imposed an edge of realism on his Symbolist training. During these years he produced the Portrait of his Mother (1912; Rome, G.N.A. Mod.) and Portrait of a Priest (1913; Venice, Ca’ Pesaro). Encouraged by Armando Spadini he developed a ‘precious’ style of painting, rich with luminous blends of colour and acknowledging a debt to the paintings of the seicento and to classical forms. The ...

Article

Salme Sarajas-Korte

(b Hamina, Nov 9, 1870; d Stockholm, Nov 26, 1925).

Finnish painter and designer. He was the leading figure in the generation of Finnish Symbolist artists that included Ellen Thesleff. After studying in Finland he travelled to Paris in 1891 and enrolled at the Académie Julian. He remained in Paris almost uninterruptedly until the spring of 1894. He was immediately attracted by the current in contemporary French painting that modelled itself on primitive art, the work of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and the work of Manet at the time of his Olympia (1865; Paris, Mus. d’Orsay). Enckell was also strongly influenced by the literary mysticism of the Soleil d’Or groups and of Joséphin Péladan. He firmly rejected Realism and developed a sculptural and synthetist style, adopting extreme asceticism in his treatment of colour, which was limited almost entirely to various shades of grey, black and ochre.

In the early 1890s Enckell’s preferred subjects were solitary figures, usually nude, androgynous boys (e.g. ...

Article

Francine-Claire Legrand

(b Verviers, Dec 30, 1865; d Woluwe-Saint-Pierre-lez-Bruxelles, 1966).

Belgian painter and designer. He studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels under Jean-François Portaels, and worked with the designer Cir Jacques. His early Symbolist work, influenced by Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949), expresses anguish through its depiction of wild-eyed and deformed figures. He described this as his ‘nightmare period’, exemplified by The Offering (1894; Brussels, Mus. A. Mod.). In 1892 Fabry took part in the first exhibition of the group ‘Pour l’Art’, which he founded with Jean Delville, and in 1893 and 1895 exhibited at the Salons de la Rose+Croix, established by Joséphin Péladan. In the late 1890s he began to work with the Art Nouveau architects Victor Horta and Paul Hankar. At this point his work became more serene and increasingly monumental. He designed the interior of the sculptor Philippe Wolfers’s villa, built by Hankar, and also the interior of Horta’s mansion Aubecq (destr.)

Fabry became drawing teacher at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in ...

Article

Henri Béhar

(b Paris, Nov 22, 1869; d Paris, Feb 19, 1951).

French writer. His opinions were formed by his knowledge of Stéphane Mallarmé and Symbolism, and he counted figurative art among the Nourritures terrestres (Paris, 1897). This work, together with the novel Les Faux-monnayeurs (Paris, 1926), confirmed him as an intellectual master to several generations in search of freedom. Although he did not write extensively about the aesthetic of his era, Gide was associated with painters throughout his life, especially those he met in the 1890s, such as Gauguin, Denis, Bonnard, Redon and Van Rysselberghe. He also collected works by these artists, buying Denis’s important group portrait of the Nabis, Homage to Cézanne (1900; Paris, Mus. d’Orsay; for illustration see Denis, Maurice), in 1901. In the previous year Jacques-Emile Blanche, a lifelong friend, had similarly portrayed a group of writers in André Gide and his Friends at the Exhibition of 1900 (1900; Rouen, Mus. B.-A.). Gide’s opinions were widely influential among artists. He was co-founder and editor of the ...

Article

Julius Kaplan

(b nr Termonde, Sept 12, 1858; d Brussels, Nov 12, 1921).

Belgian painter, illustrator, sculptor, designer, photographer and writer. He was one of the foremost Symbolist artists and active supporters of avant-garde art in late 19th-century Belgium. His wealthy family lived in Bruges from 1859 to 1864, moved to Brussels in 1865, where Khnopff remained until his death, and spent their summers at a country home in Fosset, in the Ardennes. Fosset inspired numerous landscapes that owe a strong debt to Barbizon-style realism (see 1979 cat. rais., p. 210), which dominated advanced Belgian painting in the late 1870s. Khnopff abandoned law school in 1875, and, turning to literature and art, he studied with Xavier Mellery at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. During visits to Paris (1877–80) he admired the work of Ingres and was especially attracted to the painterly art of Rubens, Rembrandt, the Venetian Renaissance and particularly Delacroix. At the Exposition Universelle of 1878 in Paris he discovered Gustave Moreau and Edward Burne-Jones, both of whom indelibly influenced his art. He studied with ...

Article

Christina Lodder

(Vasil’yevich)

(b Bol’shiye Gorky, province of Vladimir, 1873; d Moscow, 1943).

Russian painter and sculptor. He studied in Kiev and Warsaw in the 1890s and then in Moscow, and initially painted in a Symbolist style (e.g. Portrait of the Artist’s Wife (Consumption), 1910; Athens, George Costakis priv. col., see Rudenstine, p. 141). In 1907 he met Malevich and later joined the Union of Youth group, contributing to their final exhibition in St Petersburg during the winter of 1913–14. At this time Klyun began producing sculptures and reliefs using stylistic devices from Cubism and Futurism. The most dynamic and abstract of these is Rapidly Passing Landscape (1915; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), constructed from painted wood, wire, metal and porcelain. Klyun was in close contact with Malevich from 1913 and signed Malevich’s Suprematist manifesto of December 1915. Klyun later produced Suprematist works, including a series of small paintings (untitled) depicting single geometric forms in various colours on white grounds (c. 1917; Athens, George Costakis priv. col., see Rudenstine, p. 147). In ...

Article

D. Cardyn-Oomen

[Flem. Sint-Martens-Latem]

Belgian artists’ colony named after the village on the Leie River, near Ghent. Among the first artists to gather there, staying for short periods from 1898, were Symbolists such as Albert Servaes, George Minne, Albijn Van den Abeele (1835–1918), who had lived there from at least 1869, Valerius De Saedeleer and Gustave Van de Woestyne and his brother, the poet Karel Van de Woestyne. Reacting against Impressionism, which they regarded as superficial, they sought to transmit the rural peace of the village and the simplicity and deeply religious nature of its inhabitants. A second group of artists, active from 1905, were the Flemish Expressionists led by Servaes and including Constant Permeke, Gustave De Smet and Frits Van den Berghe.

P. Haesaerts: L’Ecole de Laethem-Saint-Martin (Brussels, 1945) A. De Ridder: Laethem-Saint-Martin, colonie d’artistes (Brussels and Paris, 1945) A. Stubbe: A. Servaes en de eerste en tweede Latemse kunstenaarsgroep [A. Servaes and the first and second Laethem artists’ group] (Leuven, 1956)...

Article

[Faust, Séverin]

(b Paris, Dec 29, 1872; d Paris, April 23, 1945).

French writer, theorist and critic. Writing under the pseudonym of Camille Mauclair, his first book was Eleusis (1894). Though a comparative latecomer to Symbolism, he here expounded his version of its aesthetic. He broadly defined the symbol as ‘tout ce qui paraît’ and emphasized the importance of the dream. Mostly the work is influenced by Stéphane Mallarmé, whom he greatly admired, and is, in its philosophical aspects, derived from Arthur Schopenhauer. He was sympathetic to the Pre-Raphaelites, Edward Burne-Jones and others in England, and saw the Symbolists as achieving similar results in France.

Throughout his life Mauclair remained dogmatically entrenched within a Symbolist perspective. He admired the Impressionists whilst hoping that their stylistic innovations could be turned to Symbolist effect. In 1892 he took over the Mercure de France from Albert Aurier and rapidly used his column to attack Post-Impressionists such as Gauguin, Cézanne and others. Later he saw himself as engaged in a crusade against modern art and as a defender of the French tradition, ...

Article

Kenneth Neal

(b Nantes, Sept 17, 1871; d La Bernerie-en-Retz, Loire-Atlantique, 1954).

French painter. He was a pupil of Jules-Elie Delaunay and Gustave Moreau at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and helped to popularize Symbolism in the 1890s by applying a highly finished academic technique to Symbolist subjects. His best-known paintings, which include Girl with a Peacock (before 1896; Paris, G. Levy priv. col., see Jullian, p. 2) and the Soul of the Forest (c. 1897; Nantes, Mus. B.-A.), are decorative, vaguely religious or allegorical images of beautiful women in medieval dress, influenced by early Italian Renaissance and late English Pre-Raphaelite art. Maxence often enriched the surface of his works with gold or silver foil and gilt plaster relief and mounted them in elaborate frames of his own design. He also painted fashionable portraits such as Woman with an Orchid (1900; Paris, A. Lesieutre priv. col., see 1986 exh. cat., p. 29) and Impressionist landscapes. Though he participated in the avant-garde Salon de la Rose + Croix between ...

Article

(b 1862; d 1943).

French critic. He was greatly interested in Symbolism, and in Le Mouvement idéaliste en peinture (Paris, 1896) he charted the rise of ‘idealist art’, claiming that the idealist movement had first publicly emerged at the Exposition des Peintres du Groupe Impressionniste et Synthétiste, organized by the Pont-Aven group at the Café Volpini, Paris, in 1889. This exhibition had included work by artists of several theoretical persuasions (Chromo-Luminarists, Neo-Impressionists, Synthetists, Mystics). According to Mellerio, the progenitors of ‘idealist’ painting were Gustave Moreau, Paul Gauguin, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Odilon Redon. He first met Redon in 1889 and soon became one of his closest friends and supporters, writing the preface to the catalogue for the Redon exhibition at the Durand Ruel galleries in 1894, in which he stated that Redon occupied a distinctive position in contemporary art as he belonged to no group. He compiled a catalogue of Redon’s graphic work (...

Article

(b Amersfoort, March 7, 1872; d New York, Feb 1, 1944).

Dutch painter, theorist, and draughtsman. His work marks the transition at the start of the 20th century from the Hague school and Symbolism to Neo-Impressionism and Cubism. His key position within the international avant-garde is determined by works produced after 1920. He set out his theory in the periodical of Stijl, De, in a series of articles that were summarized in a separate booklet published in Paris in 1920 under the title Le Néo-plasticisme (see Neo-plasticism) by Léonce Rosenberg. The essence of Mondrian’s ideas is that painting, composed of the most fundamental aspects of line and colour, must set an example to the other arts for achieving a society in which art as such has no place but belongs instead to the total realization of ‘beauty’. The representation of the universal, dynamic pulse of life, also expressed in modern jazz and the metropolis, was Mondrian’s point of departure. Even in his lifetime he was regarded as the founder of the most ...

Article

Franco Bernabei

(b Naples, April 21, 1864; d Milan, May 1, 1930).

Italian critic. His taste was influenced by Symbolism, as can be seen in several areas of his work: the volume entitled Arte aristocratica (Naples, 1892), the studies on contemporary literature written in 1896, his translation and introduction of the Symbolist poem Belkiss by the Portuguese writer Eugénio de Castro, and his strong interest in Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé. From 1897 he collaborated on the Marzocco and from 1900 on the art review Emporium, which he also edited.

Pica’s greatest cultural contribution was the introduction of French Impressionism to the Italian public through his book Gl’impressionisti francesi (Bergamo, 1908), together with his enthusiasm for new art movements. He was closely involved in several important art exhibitions, especially in Venice, and between 1910 and 1926 he was General Secretary of the Venice Biennale. He added greatly to the prestige of that institution through his open-minded presentation of innovative artists such as ...

Article

Marie-Christine Boucher

(b Lyon, Dec 14, 1824; d Paris, Oct 24, 1898).

French painter and draughtsman. He is known primarily for his large decorative schemes depicting figures in landscape. Although he is generally regarded as a precursor of Symbolism, he was independent of any contemporary movement, and his works appealed to academic and avant-garde artists alike.

He belonged to a wealthy bourgeois family, and his father, Chief Engineer of the Mines, wanted him to enter the Ecole Polytechnique in Lyon. However, after obtaining his baccalaureate in Paris in 1842, Puvis was obliged to abandon this plan as a result of serious illness. When he had recovered, he spent several months at the Faculté de Droit, Paris, but left in 1846 to undertake a long trip to Italy, which stimulated his interest in art. Following his return in 1847 he studied for several months with Henri Scheffer (1798–1862), and in 1848 he undertook a second journey to Italy with the painter Louis Bauderon de Vermeron (...

Article

Richard Hobbs

Six exhibitions (1892–7) in Paris, organized by Joséphin Sâr Peladan and his followers. They were a major focal point of the occultist and Catholic tendencies in French Symbolist art, growing out of the Ordre de la Rose + Croix du Temple et du Graal ou de la Rose + Croix Catholique, founded by Péladan to promote the esoteric within Catholicism and to conquer materialism within modern society. The Salons de la Rose + Croix were conceived and presented by Péladan as gestes esthétiques, a synthesis of the visual arts, literature and music in the spirit of Richard Wagner, whom Péladan venerated, and echoing the Chansons de geste of medieval literature.

In 1891 Péladan published a grandiloquent manifesto in Le Figaro (2 Sept 1891) and a brochure proclaiming the rules that would govern Rosicrucian exhibitions. Their dogmatism no doubt alienated potential allies: Péladan failed to recruit such major figures as Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Gustave Moreau and Odilon Redon. Many artists of real stature did, however, seize the opportunity to exhibit at the first Salon, opened in ...

Article

Julius Kaplan

European cultural movement that was at its peak in the last two decades of the 19th century, profoundly affecting the visual arts and inextricably bound up with music and literature.

Symbolism was first identified as a literary movement by Jean Moréas (1856–1910) in the Symbolist manifesto (‘Le Symbolisme’, Le Figaro, 18 Sept 1886). Symbolism in the visual arts was further defined by Albert Aurier as the ‘painting of ideas’ (‘Les Symbolistes’, Rev. Enc., 1 April 1892). Its complex aesthetic was a mix of Platonic-inspired philosophy, mystical and occult doctrines, psychology, linguistics, science, political theory and such aesthetic issues as the relationship between abstraction and representation. While many Symbolists reacted against the materialism of 19th-century science and its implications (positivist philosophy, social Darwinism, artistic Realism), others sought to reconcile modern science with spiritual traditions. Ideas based on the rise of scientific psychology with its emphasis on individual freedom and the great interest in the occult, together with such practices as hypnosis, opened up a realm of psychic experience, which promised access to important realms of knowledge. Symbolism stressed feeling and evocation over definition and fact and emphasized the power of suggestion. ...

Article

Caroline Boyle-Turner

Style of painting that developed out of Cloisonnism and formed a current within Symbolism. It was practised by Paul Gauguin and his circle in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The term derives from the French verb synthétiser (to synthesize) and is based on the idea that art should be a synthesis of three features: the outward appearance of natural forms, the artist’s feelings about his subject, and purely aesthetic considerations of line, colour, and form. The term was coined in 1889 when Gauguin and Emile Schuffenecker organized an exhibition entitled L’Exposition de peintures du groupe impressioniste et synthétiste in the Café Volpini at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. The confusing title acknowledged the artists’ roots in Impressionism, with its adherence to natural forms and the depiction of light, while at the same time highlighting their more recent attempts to abandon nature as the focal point of art. Although realistic, tangible subjects served as their starting-point, the artists distorted these images in order to express more clearly certain moods or interpretations. In ...

Article

Danielle Derrey-Capon

(Adolphe Gustave)

(b Saint-Amand-sur-Escaut, Belgium, May 21, 1855; d Rouen, Nov 27, 1916).

Belgian writer and critic. He initially studied law in Leuven but abandoned it for literature shortly after qualifying. He was the most important Belgian poet of the Symbolist movement; his works include Les Flamandes (Brussels, 1885) and Les Forces tumultueuses (Paris, 1902). He also produced a substantial body of prose, dominated by literary and art criticism. He took up criticism from 1880, writing for L’Art moderne, a journal founded by Edmond Picard (1836–1924). Verhaeren took over the exhibitions section, at the request of Octave Maus, from 1883 and later joined the journal’s management committee. He also wrote on art and literature for numerous other publications, such as La Jeune Belgique, Le Progrès, La Société nouvelle and L’Art libre.

Verhaeren promoted modernist ideas and took a great interest in everything ‘visual’; he defended Les XX and La Libre Esthétique and ardently supported Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism. He wrote ...