Major works of international Symbolism form the heart of the collection.

It includes important French representatives of this movement such as Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon and Pierre Puvis de Chavanne as well as the younger Maurice Denis and the group of artists called Les Nabis. Among these self-proclaimed “prophets” of modern art were artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard and Aristide Maillol, who occupy a central position in the Museum’s holdings. With selected works by James Ensor, Fernand Khnopff and Johan Thorn Prikker the major artists of Belgian and Dutch Symbolism are also represented. Gustave Moreau is considered the “Father of Symbolism” who sought to move away from naturalistic representation. As an influential teacher at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris Moreau never tired of conveying his revolutionary ideas about the use of color to his pupils: “Note this well: You must think through color, have imagination in it. If you don’t have imagination, your color will never be beautiful […] Color must be thought, dreamed, imagined.” With his remarkable “color fantasies” Moreau anticipated the liberation of color in the 20th century. The Symbolist artists did not pursue any particular common style. They were united by the effort to make their art a mirror of the soul and the subconscious, of dreams and visions, through the pure value of their colors and the language of symbols.