Identifying Specific Appropriations in Moreau's Salome for New Meaning
Mentor:Joanna Roche, Professor and Area Coordinator, Art History, California State University, Fullerton
The painting, Salome Dancing Before King Herod, 1876, by Gustave Moreau, is known for representing the decadence and ambiguous mysticism of the Symbolist art movement. While this historical painting is known for focusing on one specific biblical story, a range of cultural objects and motifs can be identified through digital archival research, including preparatory sketches and studies. These appropriations not only provide a sense of the tools used by a Symbolist painter such as Moreau, but paint a larger picture of French society's attitude toward colonized people. By choosing the story of Salome adorned in the dress of the Orient, Moreau compares Salome to what represents otherness according to French society at the time. Documents of Gustave Moreau's sketches have been well collected and preserved at the Musee Gustave Moreau in Paris, France, which reveal his interest in art removed from Moreau in both time and space. This invented history not only challenges notions of French history painting, but also Oriental painting, which centered on ethnographic accuracy. This research paper specifically focuses on the reason Moreau chose these appropriations to represent Salome in the moment of the dance and their relationship to ritual.