The Studios

Second Floor

On the second floor is the studio specially designed by the architect Albert Lafon at the request of Gustave Moreau in 1895, to accommodate the large format paintings Tyrtaeus singing during the Combat and The Suitors. These had been started very early on, and then enlarged at the end of 1882, at a point when the painter was thinking of organising a major - posthumous? - exhibition of his work. As for The Return of the Argonauts that he had been planning before 1885, this was painted around 1891, then produced on a larger scale after the huge studios were built, and subsequently reworked in 1897. Many of the drawings for this large painting have been conserved, along with a wax maquette of the boat filled with “all the illusions of youth”. "And yet everything is measured in this symbolic group, this allegory of youth, as nothing must come to destroy or diminish this impression of happiness which can only be expressed in soft, sinuous lines and a fragile and striking harmony". When looking at The Daughters of Thespius, this glorification of youth by an aging artist, one cannot help but think of Ingres’ late masterpiece The Turkish Bath.

Alongside paintings that have been endlessly reworked, are others executed quickly and not reworked, like The Chimeras that he probably completed in four months (he left it largely at the stage of the sketch on canvas) and Moses Saved from the Waters, with its flamboyant reds and blacks, painted around 1893.