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Jupiter And Semele By Moreau Essay

1220 words - 5 pages

Jupiter and Semele by Moreau

     
     19th century French painter Gustave Moreau was an artist highly regarded for his intricate use of images based on myth and legends to create very symbolic and often haunting paintings. Moreau was quoted saying: “I love my art so much that I shall only be happy when I can practice it for myself alone.” In a time when many artists choose to paint classical mythological subjects as if it were a proper education in Greek and Latin, Moreau was developing his own unusual and personal interpretations using a classical subject matter as his tool for artistic expression. This is very much the case in his painting of Jupiter and Semele (1894-5) in which Moreau explores classical myth in a very personal and unorthodox way to express his interest in mythology and religion as a true Visionary artist. Moreau employs a variety of methods to create his works, one way Moreau makes the work more personal is by taking the molds of mythological stories and turn them into a mystical world with poetic melancholy with his own personal style using color and size to create emotion. In these detailed pieces Moreau combines lush vegetation with jewel-like colors make the fantasy world seem so real. Finally, as a French Symbolist painter, Moreau used various iconography meant to be mysterious and ambiguous in their meanings, often using icons from Symbolist writings and ancient myths.

     In Jupiter and Semele Moreau develops his own interpretations and vision of the mythological tale about Zeus and Semele. Semele is a mortal, and one of Zeus’s many lovers. She was a Thebian princess, and the only mortal to be a parent of a god. She is bent known as the mother of Dionysus, god of wine. Hera was Zeus’s wife and sister, when she learned of who was responsible for this birth she killed Semele. Because of his mother dying while he was in the womb. Dionysus was ripped from the womb of his deceased mother, and then implanted in Zeus/Jupiter’s thigh from which he was later reborn. The story ends with Dionysus making his way to the Underworld to save his mother whom he had never seen, and arranged for her to live with the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. In the painting Moreau has used vivid colors and intense proportions to create a magical and mysterious feeling. Moreau describes the setting in a detailed manner; “in the midst of colossal aerial buildings, with neither foundations nor roof-tops, covered with teeming, quivering vegetation, this sacred flora standing out against the dark blues of the starry vaults and the deserts of the sky, the God so often invoked appears in his still veiled splendor. A quote such as this gives us and idea of what the artist was trying to create. His elaborate compositions and glowing colors give the painting a dreamlike quality to them. By combining colossal size with contrasting colors and close attention to detail Moreau is able to create a painting that is a visual journey through Moreau’s...

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