Late 19th-century movement in French poetry, which inspired a similar trend in French painting. The Symbolist poets used words for their symbolic rather than concrete meaning. Leading exponents were Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Arthur Rimbaud. The Symbolist painters rejected Realism and Impressionism, seeking to express moods and psychological states through color, line, and form. Their subjects were often mythological, mystical, or fantastic. Gustave Moreau was a leading Symbolist painter.
Other Symbolist painters included Puvis de Chavannes and Odilon Redon in France, Arnold Böcklin in Switzerland, and Edward Burne-Jones in Britain.
In the arts, the use of symbols as a device for concentrating or intensifying meaning. In particular, the term is used for a late 19th-century movement in French poetry, associated with Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Arthur Rimbaud, who used words for their symbolic rather than concrete meaning.
1. A system of symbols and symbolic representations.
2. The practice of investing things with symbolic meaning.