One minute with Gustave Moreau

Dear Friends,

This week we are pleased to invite you to discover a work by a famous artist, rarely presented on the walls of a gallery.

This is a watercolour by Gustave Moreau entitled ‘The Pain of Orpheus’, from around 1887, which may stir your curiosity.

Françoise and Florence Chibret Plaussu


One minute with Gustave Moreau

You may recall that this artist was one of the main representatives of the symbolist current that appeared at the end of the 19th century as a reaction to naturalism. This movement introduced into painting, notions of fetish and mysticism, of esotericism and pantheism, of the occult and the fabulous in which everything can become a symbol.

In this watercolour, Moreau reinvents ancient mythology through a decadent romanticism.

Orpheus, a poet and musician, recognizable by his lyre, cries his sorrow at the death of Eurydice, his wife resting at his feet. The symbols of his powers: a halo, wild animals and trees appear in an atmosphere that is both mysterious and fantastic, unreal and supernatural.

An eponymous preparatory drawing is preserved at the Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris, where one travels through the artist’s home and workshop, a magical place to discover if at all possible.

It should also be noted that Gustave Moreau was a revered art teacher, open to young talents and who encouraged his students to think about their painting, to dream about it, beyond technical virtuosity.

Matisse, Marquet, Rouault, his students, remained strongly influenced by their time in his workshop which was one of the laboratories of modern painting.


The Pain of Orpheus

Work by Gustave Moreau: La douleur d'Orphée
La douleur d’Orphée
Circa 1887
Watercolor and gouache on paper
38 x 27,5 cm
Signed lower left



– Allard and Noël collection, Paris
– Charles Mourier collection, Paris
– Nourhan Manoukian collection
– Private collection, Switzerland


– « Idéalistes et Symbolistes », Galerie J.C. Gaubert, Paris, 1973, n°57
– « Gustave Moreau, symboliste », Zürich, Kunsthaus, November – May 1986, n°101


– Pierre-Louis Mathieu, « Gustave Moreau, édition complète des œuvres achevées, aquarelles et dessins », Oxford, 1977, n° 354, p. 379
– Pierre-Louis Mathieu, « Gustave Moreau », Paris, 1994, p. 224
– Pierre-Louis Mathieu, « Gustave Moreau, monographie et nouveau catalogue de l’œuvre achevée », Paris, 1998, n° 392, p. 399

Price upon request. Contact us.

Gustave Moreau, La douleur d'Orphée: the work with its frame
Gustave Moreau, La douleur d’Orphée: the work with its frame