Daily Work of Art

Page: Jupiter and Semele

Artist: Gustave Moreau

Completion Date: 1895

Style: Symbolism

Genre:mythological painting


Material: canvas

Dimensions: 213 x 118 cm

Gallery: Musée Gustave Moreau

““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.”

—Gustave Moreau

Painted in 1895, Jupiter and Semele plunges its viewers in realms of myth and magic. According to Roman mythology, Jupiter seduced the mortal princess Semele and produced Bacchus by this union. Seated on his celestial throne, the King of Heaven clutches bloodied Semele like a limp doll while multitudes of deities crowd around them. Bloodied and exhausted, the princess experienced intercourse with a god and will now bear a divine son synonymous with fantastic rites and wild Maenads. Below them flock wild Pan, silent Death and terrifying Hecate. Additionally, a three-head devil and several angels crowd around the throne to see the wounded princess. Riotously colorful, the hosts of splendor crowd every inch of the canvas and invite onlookers to partake of this extraordinary spectacle.

Oppositional to Impressionism, Jupiter and Semele boldly defends both Symbolism and its artistic techniques. Unafraid to depict romantic mythology, Moreau proved he could produce works of sophistication. The painting’s detailing creates a scene of encrusted gold, heavenly glories and physical delight. Pierced by the god, Semele experienced orgasmic ecstasy unlike anything on earth. Now the bearer of Bacchus, she will be honored as the mother of an Olympian. Jupiter and Semele valorized Hellenic cosmology and in so doing created an opportunity for viewers to experience our race’s original religion. Subversive and fascinating, it compels us to slip off our bourgeois assumptions and experience the mystery cults of old Arcadia.

About Peter Sayles

Peter Sayles ist eine junge rechtsextremistischem und glühender New Englander