Symbolist artists and authors were united in their desire to express the hidden worlds that lay behind visible reality.
Georges de Feure’s print series Bruges: mystique et sensuelle, for instance, was not a literal visualisation of the novel Bruges la morte by Georges Rodenbach.
Working for a living
Symbolist artists chiefly made prints for expensive bibliophile editions aimed at the elite.
More down-to-earth caricaturistes-illustrateurs like Jules Chéret and Alexandre-Théophile Steinlen, by contrast, produced lithographic book covers and advertisements for the cheaper paperbacks that were published in large editions.
In so doing, these artists simultaneously reached a large audience with their innovative art, while ensuring they could earn a living.
Pierre-Louis Mathieu, La génération symboliste, Geneva 1990
Henri Dorra (ed.), Symbolist Art Theories. A Critical Anthology, Berkeley 1994
Clément Dessy, Patrick McGuinness, Les écrivains et les Nabis. La littérature au défi de la peinture, Rennes 2015