Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824 – 1898)
Between 1884 and 1886 the Symbolist painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes painted this staircase decoration entitled “The Sacred Grove beloved of the arts and muses” for the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. Even this preparatory study in the Clemens Sels Museum Neuss shows how much the artist followed classical role models in his monumental works. The painting is a scene with classicistic figures in an idealized landscape and expresses nostalgia for the longgone world of the Arcadia of antiquity, the happy place of the Golden Age when humankind lived in harmony with nature. Puvis de Chavannes's anti-impressionist manner of painting – his idealized contour line and the rhythm of his compositions – had a great influence on the next generation of artists, especially the group Les Nabis.