Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gustave Moreau Home and Studio in Paris

 In March I had the occasion to visit the home and studio of French Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826-1898), now the Gustave Moreau National Museum and open to the public. Located in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, on a residential street, is this wondrous artists’ home. 

                                         Interior of Gustave Moreau's home

Gustave Moreau lived and worked in this beautiful setting from 1852, until his death in 1898. The living quarters are small and lavishly decorated with artwork, fine furniture and ceramics. 

                                             View of the second floor studio

To visit the studio, located on the second and third floors, is to be transported to Moreau’s world.  The space is large and well lit by large windows and ample wall space for the numerous large-scale works. Moreau’s thousands of framed drawings are handsomely preserved throughout the studio in flat files and in cases behind drapes (to keep them from direct light exposure.)

                 Spiral staircase that leads to the third floor studio and exhibition space.

Gustave Moreau was a most prolific artist creating an estimated 10,000 paintings drawings, sculptures and watercolors. His focus was large-scale biblical and mythological scenes.  His studio is a treasure trove of drawings, preparatory sketches and sculptures made in planning his paintings.  These preparatory objects offer insight into Moreau’s process. 

                 Horse sculptures by Moreau, created as studies for his paintings.

While studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts Moreau was influenced by master painters such as Michelangelo and Rembrandt as well as ancient and medieval art.  He would go on to have an effect on the work of Matisse and the Fauves, as well as the surrealists and even the abstract expressionists.

                   "Jupiter and Semele", 1895, oil painting by Gustave Moreau.

While still in his thirties Moreau wrote, “I think of my death and the fate of all these works and compositions I have taken such trouble to collect.  Separately they will perish, but taken as a whole they give an idea of what kind of an artist I was and in what kind of surroundings I chose to live my dreams.”

                                  Third floor studio and exhibition space.

Moreau’s home opened to the public in 1903.  I highly recommend a trip to this fascinating collection.  I also recommend two books that contain chapters about the museum and collection.  “Artists in Residence” by Dana Micucci, this amazing book has inspired me to visit many artists’ homes,  in including those of Delacroix, Bonheur, Daubigny, Van Gogh and Monet. The book “Artists Houses” by Gerard-Georges Lemaire is also fascinating.

 All photographs by Marie Dauenheimer.