Jupiter and Semele

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Jupiter and Semele

19th century French painter Gustave Moreau was an artist highly regarded for his intricate use of images based on myth and legends to create very symbolic and often haunting paintings. Moreau was quoted saying: "I love my art so much that I shall only be happy when I can practice it for myself alone." In a time when many artists choose to paint classical mythological subjects as if it were a proper education in Greek and Latin, Moreau was developing his own unusual and personal interpretations using a classical subject matter as his tool for artistic expression. This is very much the case in his painting of Jupiter and Semele (1894-5) in which Moreau explores classical myth in a very personal and unorthodox way to express his interest in mythology and religion as a true Visionary artist. Moreau employs a variety of methods to create his works, one way Moreau makes the work more personal is by taking the molds of mythological stories and turn them into a mystical world with poetic melancholy with his own personal style using color and size to create emotion. In these detailed pieces Moreau combines lush vegetation with jewel-like colors make the fantasy world seem so real. Finally, as a French Symbolist painter, Moreau used various iconography meant to be mysterious and ambiguous in their meanings, often using icons from Symbolist writings and ancient myths.

In Jupiter and Semele Moreau develops his own interpretations and vision of the mythological tale about Zeus and Semele. Semele is a mortal, and one of Zeus's many lovers. She was a Thebian princess, and the only mortal to be a parent of a god. She is bent known as the mother of Dionysus, god of wine. Hera was Zeus's wife and sister, when she learned of who was responsible for this birth she killed Semele. Because of his mother dying while he was in the womb. Dionysus was ripped from the womb of his deceased mother, and then implanted in Zeus/Jupiter's thigh from which...
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