Gustave Moreau, a force in the French Symbolist movement, created illustrations of biblical and mythological figures in shimmering atmospheres and gemstone colors. In 1879, Moreau received a commission from the art collector Antony Roux, who wanted him to illustrate Jean de La Fontaine’s 17th-century Fables. Moreau did so in watercolors, tackling the figures and forms in exquisite, evocative detail. The works astounded the art world, and when they were exhibited in London in 1886, a young George Bernard Shaw remarked, “The La Fontaine series entitles Moreau to rank with Delacroix and Burne-Jones as illustrator.” Now over 100 years later, Moreau’s rarely seen surviving Fables—there are 34—are on view at Waddesdon Manor. —E.C.
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