Sunday, 6 November 2016


“The more people explore the world, the more they realise in every country there’s a different aesthetic. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.” - Helena Christensen

Gaston Bussière (April 24, 1862, Cuisery – October 29, 1928 or 1929, Saulieu) was a French Symbolist painter and illustrator. Bussière studied at L’Académie des Beaux-Arts in Lyon before entering the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris where he studied under Alexandre Cabanel and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. In 1884, he won the Marie Bashkirtseff prize. He was close to Gustave Moreau. He found inspiration in the theatre works of Berlioz (La Damnation de Faust) as well as William Shakespeare and Wagner.

He came in demand as an illustrator, creating works for major authors. He illustrated Honoré de Balzac's “Splendeurs et Misères des Courtisanes” published in 1897, “Émaux et Camées”, by Théophile Gautier, as well as Oscar Wilde’s “Salomé”. He also illustrated several works by Flaubert. An associate of Joséphin Péladan, the founder of the Rose-Croix esthétique, Bussière exhibited his works at Salon de la Rose-Croix over two years. Many of his works are on exhibit at the Musée des Ursulines in Mâcon.

Bussière revelled in the female form, many of his canvases depicting legendary women such as Salammbo, Isolde, Brünhilde, Helen of Troy, Salome and Juliet. He also painted many depictions of nymphs, nereids and fairies, scantily dressed and showing a typical Art Nouveau ideal of beauty and embellishment. His colours are glowing and vivid, but his aesthetic often teeters towards the kitsch side of good taste.

Above is one his paintings of an illustrative nature depicting a scene from Wagner’s “Ring”, more specifically Act II of “The Valkyrie”. It is called “The Revelation” and shows Brünnhilde discovering Sieglinde et Siegmund in the forest. Bussière was passionate about the great epics and the opera, especially Wagner and Berlioz. He painted poetic works of symbolist inspiration, evoking the heroes and heroines of the epic, mythology, history and legend.

“The Valkyrie” of Richard Wagner, was performed for the first time in Munich in 1870 and presented to the Parisian public on 12 May 1893. Bussière certainly attended the performance and was inspired to paint this scene. Brünnhilde was sent by her father Wotan, the chief of the gods punish Siegmund and Sieglinde, Brünnhilde is touched by the passionate love they show each other and decides to help them, thus disobeying Wotan. In the background one may see the other Valkyries riding their steeds.

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