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Jupiter and Semela - Gustave Moreau. C. 1894
Gustave Moreau was a prominent figure in the movement of the Symbolists, who created images saturated with mysticism and emotions. Thanks to the thick layers of paint, his painting, depicting fantastic scenes in which the characters from mythology, history and religion participated, seemed inlaid, almost covered with precious stones.
This canvas is typical of Moro's exquisite style; it depicts a young Jupiter seated calmly on a generously painted throne, indifferent to the naked Semele, who prostrated herself on his knee. Semela asked God to appear before her in all his divine splendor; according to Moro's interpretation, she was “overwhelmed by the paroxysm of divine ecstasy” when she saw Jupiter. He was all adorned with precious stones: forehead, and hair, and neck, and chest. He rested his hand on the lyre, an unusual attribute for God - the lord of Heaven, while his permanent attribute - the eagle - was lost somewhere below.
At the foot of the throne, Moreau depicted figures symbolizing Death and Sorrow, which explain the tragic basis of life. Not far from them, under the wings of an eagle, the great god Pan (symbol of the Earth) bowed his saddened brow. Shadow and Poverty, mysterious figures of darkness, are at Pan's feet.