Gustave Moreau: Salomé and the femme fatale

General Information

Dates
Apr. 6 – Jun. 23, 2019
Hours
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Admittance until 5:30 p.m.)
* Open until 8 p.m. (admittance until 7:30 p.m.) on May 10 and Jun. 7.
Closed
Wednesday (Except for May 1, Jun. 5, 12 and 19)
Admission
Adults: ¥1,000
Visitors aged 65 or over carrying proof of age: ¥900
Students (College): ¥700  
Students (High / Middle school): ¥500
Admission is free for children in primary school and younger.
Groups of 20 or more will receive a ¥100 discount per person (not including those aged 65 or over).
Admission is free for disability passbook holders and up to one accompanying adult.
Free admission is offered to all visitors on International Museum Day (May 18).
Organizers
Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art, NHK, NHK Promotions, The Yomiuri Shimbun
Support
Embassy of France in Tokyo / Institut français du Japon, Minato Ward Board of Education
Sponsorship
Mitsumura Printing Co.
Cooperation
Japan Airlines
Special cooperation
Gustave Moreau Museum

Exhibition overview

Gustave Moreau (1826–1898) was a master of the Symbolist movement, known for his portrayals of mythological and biblical subjects. Late 19th century France was a time of developing industry and the emergence of Realism and Materialism. It was an era when Moreau strove to seek truth by capturing a fantastical inner world on canvas. This exhibition features about 70 oil paintings, watercolors, and sketches on loan from the Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris, focusing primarily on Moreau’s female portraiture. Salomé gazes at the specter of John the Baptist’s head in the masterpiece The Apparition, while The Unicorns brings to life the titular magical creature—a symbol of purity. From femme fatales in myths and the Bible leading men to their death, to vulnerable women seduced into their own downfall, to Moreau’s mother and his lover, this exhibition offers an exploration of the stories behind these women and Moreau’s relationships with them, examining his artistic inspiration from a new perspective.

Highlights

Masterpieces from the Gustave Moreau Museum, in Japan for the first time in 14 years!
Many masterpieces have been brought together for this exhibition thanks to the generous cooperation of Paris’s Gustave Moreau Museum. Displayed works include The Apparition (c. 1876), The Rape of Europe (1868), and The Unicorns (c. 1885).

Sketches and letters showcasing Moreau’s relationships with his mother and his lover!
Visitors will get to delve deeper into Moreau’s personal character through his sketches and letters, many of which are on display in Japan for the first time. The items offer insights into Moreau’s relationship with his mother Pauline and lover Alexandrine Dureux, both important figures in his life.

An exhibition focused on Moreau’s female portraiture!
From the most beloved women in Moreau’s life to femme fatales from the pages of history and literature, this exhibition highlights the female figures that form the bedrock of Moreau’s profoundly resplendent art.

I. Moreau’s Beloved Women

This section examines how Moreau formed relationships with the women in his life, specifically his mother Pauline—whom he loved more than anybody in the world—and his lover Alexandrine Dureux, with whom he had a relationship of almost 30 years but never married. Visitors will be able to gain a deeper understanding of this facet of Moreau’s life through his depictions of these women, clearly infused with love and affection, and through works and materials associated with the two.

II. The Apparition and Salomé

The wealth of features and enticing qualities in Moreau’s most famous work, The Apparition, greatly inspired artists of the late 19th century. This work is celebrated for its unusual portrayal of John the Baptist’s decapitated head, floating as if in a vision, the unique inclusion of architectural and ornamental styles from various eras and regions, and a creation process that required a multitude of studies and variants. The Apparition is the centerpiece of this section, which looks at Moreau’s depictions of Salomé from various angles and examines what it was that compelled Moreau to create this distinctive image.

III. The Femme Fatales

In addition to the femme fatales seducing and toying with men, sometimes even claiming their lives, Moreau often painted women at the mercy of fate, targeted by beguiling men. Visitors may find themselves similarly mesmerized by the mysterious, beautiful figures in these works. This section explores Moreau’s worldview and sensibilities through his complicated and multifaceted depictions of these women, which feature colors that glitter like inlaid enamel and dramatic images that spark one’s imagination.

IV. Pure Maidens and The Unicorns

Moreau painted the mystical unicorn—a symbol of virtue obedient only to a pure maiden—in the embrace of beautiful, willowy women. The image of the innocent woman is the embodiment of male yearning, her inviolable chastity ensnaring men and driving them mad. Through Moreau’s portrayal of the irresistible and even cruel enchantment concealed within this female archetype, this section examines his femme fatale imagery through a new perspective.