"Moreau's great portrait of his first wife, the famous Sacrificial Virgin"


 Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) was a Parisian Symbolist artist.  He was very prolific but generally lived quite a secluded life; though in 1892 he did become a popular professor at the École des Beaux-Arts.  He had himself been taught by the artist Chassériau, who was a profound influence on him.  One of his own pupils was Matisse; Moreau was known for encouraging his students to develop their own distinctive styles rather than adhering to preconceived ideas about art. 


The painting referred to here is an invention, but it does tally with the themes that interested him.  Much of his output depicted figures from the Classical myths, such as Orpheus, Oedipus, Prometheus and Europa.  He also painted biblical scenes, such as the Pietà and Salome.  These are all characteristic of Symbolism, as their familiarity to the viewer combined with the difference in style would provoke interesting mental and emotional responses.