In 1892 Joséphin Péladan (1858–1918), a Rosicrucian, author, and critic, organized the first Salon de la Rose+Croix. This annual exhibition in Paris showcased mystical Symbolist art, particularly a hermetic, numinous vein of Symbolism that was favored by Péladan and dominant during the 1890s, a time when religious and occult practices often intertwined. Mysterious, visionary, and mythical subjects, often drawn from literary sources, prevailed in the art at the salons.
Organized by Vivien Greene, Senior Curator, 19th- and Early 20th-Century Art, with the assistance of Ylinka Barotto, Assistant Curator, Mystical Symbolism will feature about 40 works culled from the six Salon de la Rose+Croix exhibitions as well as pertinent historical documents. A musical component with pieces by Erik Satie and others will complement the presentation and underscore how composers played key roles in the development of the movement. The exhibition will highlight central artworks shown at each salon in order to tease out themes such as the role of Orpheus, the adulation of the Primitives, and the cult of personality that developed around figures including Richard Wagner and Péladan himself.