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Vienna Diary 8: A Decadent Room

(Added 16 August 2008)

Gustave Moreau, Les chimères (1884) detail as found in Dreamers of Decadence/ Esthètes et Magiciens 1971

Old chests, rare tapestries, two Carpaccios, three Boticellis; studies by Rosetti and Burne-Jones; a sedan-chair which carried the Marquis de Polignac beneath the fretted foliage of Versailles; a prodigious number of Byzantine Madonnas and Italian pots; pewter with matt blue tones next to Japanese porcelain; an aquarium in which, among the seaweed, there swim fish caught off the coast of Orissa. Then there are wide divans covered with the skins of black bears and stillborn tigers. Between two vases holding crimson flowers, on a table strewn with golden knives, stands a large goblet in the shape of a winged sexual organ containing Kanaka confits. Hung from the ceiling by invisible threads, peacock feathers sway in the air to the plaintive lament of viols and the ecstatic sound of harmonicas. -Anon (Gil Blass), source: Phillipe Julian, Dreamers of Decadence/ Esthètes et Magiciens, 1971

Phillipe Julien, author of Dreamers of Decadence/ Esthètes et Magiciens, was our guide to the Symbolist painters – introducing the atmosphere of the Decadence with purple prose gleaned from period texts and evocative chapters such as, The Mystical Chimera, The Chimera – Catchers and Breeding the Chimeras.

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