The volume reproduces and describes in detail more than 200 of Moreau's works, ranging from such well-known paintings as Orpheus and The Apparition (one of his many treatments of Salome and the beheaded John the Baptist) to lesser known but revealing watercolors, drawings, and sculptures. Two particularly important paintings--Oedipus and the Sphinx and Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra--are the focus of longer descriptions that cast light on Moreau's working methods. Genevieve Lacambre, Director of the Musee Gustave Moreau in Paris, introduces the volume and contributes an essay about Moreau's passionate interest in the "exoticism" of other cultures, particularly those of Persia and India. Marie-Laure de Contenson describes the artist's powerful attraction to medieval art and aesthetics. Larry Feinberg shows that Moreau was deeply influenced by the Italian Renaissance and, in particular, Leonardo and Michelangelo. Douglas Druick writes about Moreau's evocative symbolic language, which drew on unique reinterpretations of mythical figures and events to convey the artist's anxieties about the immorality and materialism of his age.
This is a powerfully written and visually stunning record of the creativity and exquisite craftsmanship of Moreau's distinctive contributions to nineteenth-century art.