Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jean Delville's artistic mystery

The Treasures of Satan, 1898.
If you want to understand that unique moment in the history of Nineteenth-Century art from 1884-1892 nothing better than the Les XX. One of the the group's most interesting artists is Jean Delville, who lived most of his life in Brussels, but also spent some years in Paris, Rome, Glasgow and London. 

Portrait of Madame Stuart Merril,
 Delville began his training at the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts when he was twelve, continuing there until 1889, and winning a number of top prizes (among them Prix de Rome). In addition to painting, Delville also expressed his ideas in numerous written texts. He became interested in spiritual and esoteric subjects during his early twenties. In 1887 or 1888 he met Sâr Joséphin Péladan, an eccentric mystic and occultist, who defined himself as a modern Rosicrucian, descended from the Persian Magi. 

Delville's monumental Homme Dieu, 1895.
Delville was struck by a number of Péladan’s ideas, among them his vision of the ideal artist as a spontaneously developed initiate, whose mission was to send light, spirituality and mysticism into the world. He exhibited paintings in Péladan's Salons of the Rose + Croix between 1892 and 1895. Sometime during the mid to late 1890s, Delville joined the Theosophical Society, and in 1910 he became the secretary of the theosophical movement in Belgium.