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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - Fin de siècle: Decadence, Symbolism and the Poètes Maudits

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FCS195 – Lecture 6 11-11-20 8:09 PM
Fin de siècle – Decadence, Symbolism and the Poètes maudits
Fin de siècle – atmosphere at the time
“Poètes maudits” meaning accursed or damned poets
“Fin de siècle” meaning end of the century
Baron Haussman
Asked by Napoleon to renew/modernize Paris
He tore down buildings and widened the streets
Progress was a big value at the time
o Electricity
o Horse-less carriage
o Telephone
o Bicycles
People were both fascinated by these inventions and scared at the same
time. this contributed to a feeling of unease
End of the century – context
Many diseases
Environment where strange things happened i.e. diseases and new
There was a sense of decadence loss of meaning/fall from grace
Sense of loss
Pessimistic attitude
Fascination with the dark, the mystical
Fascination for evil, crime, transgression and pain

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**This was more felt in the artistic circle
Set during the same years as impressionism not a reaction to the
movement and did not happen after, it happened at the same time
Gustave Moreau
Portrays women in a predatory light
Themes of death
Moreau – Oedipus and the Sphinx (1864)
Depicted as an embrace
The sphinx is depicted as dangerous in Greek mythology , she
was a monster
Woman is framed as being attractive and dangerous
Moreau – Orpheus (1866)
Orpheus was a musician and a poet, his wife dies and he refused to
get remarried
All the women jumped on him because he was attractive and tore
him apart tore by female attraction = recurring theme
Moreau, Salomé dancing before Herod (1876)
Very precise paintings
Salomé’s purpose in the Bible is to warn us against women
Same theme of predatory women
Moreau – The apparition (1876)
Salomé asked for St John the baptist’s head on a plate and gets it
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