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Gustave Moreau: The Fables

16 Jun – 17 Oct 2021

£5, House & Grounds admission applies

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An exhibition of rarely seen watercolours by a great French artist, that illustrate the 17th-century Fables of Jean de la Fontaine.

Gustave Moreau (1826-98) was one of the most brilliant and influential artists associated with the French Symbolist movement. This exhibition aims to display some of the most important works he ever made, unseen in public for over a century.

In collaboration with Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, this exhibition reveals for the first time 34 watercolours created by Moreau between 1879 and 1885, on loan from a private collection. They were part of a series commissioned by the art collector Antony Roux to illustrate the 17th-century Fables of Jean de La Fontaine (many of which derive from Aesop’s Fables). They were exhibited in Paris in the 1880s to great acclaim and in London in 1886, where critics frequently compared the artist to Edward Burne-Jones.

Moreau made 64 works for the series, which subsequently entered a Rothschild collection; however, a significant proportion was lost during the Nazi era. The surviving works have not been exhibited since 1906 and they have only ever been published in black and white.

Curator, Juliet Carey is presenting an online tour of the exhibition on Monday 28 June at 6pm.

Online tour details

A catalogue, Gustave Moreau: The Fables, by Juliet Carey and published by Paul Holberton will accompany the exhibition (£25). Hardback, 160 pages, 100 colour illustrations, ISBN: 978-1-911300-86-1

A version of the exhibition will be shown at the Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris in autumn 2021.

Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris >

Gustave Moreau Phoebus and Boreas (detail)
Gustave Moreau Phoebus and Boreas (detail) © Private Collection