Mystical Symbolism

Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris, 1892–1897

Curated by Vivien Greene
October 28, 2017–January 7, 2018

Art that promises an escape from the world at hand
– The New York Times

From October 28, 2017 through January 7, 2018, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection will present Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris, 1892–1897, the first museum exhibition on this revelatory and significant yet frequently overlooked series of Salons. Mysterious, mythical, and visionary themes, often drawn from literature, prevailed in the art of the six exhibitions, which were held annually in Paris from 1892 to 1897. Images of femmes fragiles and fatales, androgynous creatures, chimeras, and incubi were the norm, as were sinuous lines, attenuated figures, and anti-naturalistic forms. Featuring highlights from the Salons, this exhibition will include approximately forty works by a cross section of artists—some familiar, others less so—and invite a fresh look at and new scholarship on the legacies of late nineteenth-century Symbolist art. In the spring of 1892 Joséphin Péladan (1858–1918), author, critic, and Rosicrucian, organized the first Salon de la Rose+Croix at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris. Showcasing mystical Symbolist art, particularly a hermetic and spiritually devoted vein favored by the eccentric Péladan, the annual Salons were cosmopolitan in reach and served as a crossroads, gathering the work of artists from Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. Benefiting from extensive research to identify artworks shown in the original exhibitions, Mystical Symbolism will encompass painting, work on paper, and sculpture by artists such as Antoine Bourdelle, Rogelio de Egusquiza, Jean Delville, Charles Filiger, Fernand Khnopff, Charles Maurin, Alphonse Osbert, Armand Point, Georges Rouault, Carlos Schwabe, Alexandre Séon, Jan Toorop, Ville Vallgren, and Félix Vallotton.

Marcel-Bérronneau, Orpheus in Hades (Orphée), 1897
oil on canvas, 194 x 156 cm. Musée des Beux-Arts , Marseille
Photo: © Claude Almodovar / Collection du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille
Alexandre Séon, The Sâr Joséphin Péladan (Le Sâr Joséphin Péladan), 1891
oil on canvas, 132.5 x 80 cm. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon
Image © Lyon MBA - Photo Alain Basset
Henri Martin, Young Saint (Jeune sainte), 1891
oil on canvas, 65.4 x 49.3 cm. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brest, France
Photo: © Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brest, France
Charles Maurin, The Dawn of Labor (L’Aurore du travail), ca. 1891, oil on canvas, 79 x 148 cm
Musee d’art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Étienne Métropole, France
Photo: Yves Bresson, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Saint Étienne Métropole, France
Alphonse Osbert, Visione, 1892
oil on canvas, 235 x 138 cm
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Gift of Yolande Osbert 1977
Carlos Schwabe, Poster for the first Salon de la Rose+Croix, 1892
Lithograph, 198 x 80.5 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Given anonymously, 1987
Photo: Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, New York
Alexandre Séon, The Lament of Orpheus (Lamentation d’Orphée), ca. 1896
oil on panel, 73 x 116 cm
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Gift of Fleury Gromollard, nephew and heir of the artist 1917

Mystical Symbolism is organized by Vivien Greene, Senior Curator, 19th- and Early 20th-Century Art, with the assistance of Ylinka Barotto, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection will be the second venue of the exhibition, after the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (June 30–October 4, 2017).


The fully illustrated exhibition catalogue will offer new scholarship on the Salon de la Rose+Croix and Symbolism. It will be comprised of essays on the Salon and its main themes (Vivien Greene, Senior Curator, 19th- and Early 20th-Century Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York), the contemporary reception of the salon (Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond, independent scholar), and the connections between Symbolists tenets and those of early 20th-century avant-garde artists (Kenneth E. Silver, Professor of Art History, New York University). The catalogue will also contain a selected bibliography and artist entries authored by emerging scholars.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection Store:
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Daily at 3:30 pm free guided tours will be offered to the public.


Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris, 1892–1897 is supported by the museum’s Institutional Patrons - EFG, Lavazza, and the Regione del Veneto, by Guggenheim Intrapresæ and by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Advisory Board. Furniture courtesy of Roche Bobois. Education programs surrounding the exhibition are funded by the Fondazione Araldi Guinetti, Vaduz.

Institutional Patrons
Regione del Veneto
  Guggenheim Intrapresae
Acqua di Parma + Aermec + Allegrini + Apice + Arclinea + Arper + Distilleria Nardini + Florim + Foodies Bros + Gruppo Campari + Hangar Design Group + Istituto Europeo di Design + Mapei + MST-Gruppo Maccaferri + Orsoni + René Caovilla + Rubelli + Safilo Group + Swatch

Furniture courtesy of Roche Bobois
Roche Bobois
Additional support provided by
Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia