The Salon de la Rose † Croix

I. “A call to arms for the worship of beauty, the Salon de la Rose + Croix (R + C) was founded in Paris by … Joséphin Péladan. … The Salon aimed to transcend the mudane and material for a higher spiritual life …. Péladan consecrated the Salon in 1891 as part of L’Ordre de la Rose + Croix du Temple et du Graal, a fraternal secret society he ordained… The rose and the cross, whether in the form of images or words, conjoined by the symbol +, †, ×, or A Maltese cross, referred to the Catholic devotion of the esoteric order.

Sinuous lines, attenuated figures, and hieratic compositions characterized their artwork. Imagery was mystical and visionary in tenor and often depicted mythical, literary, or spiritual themes replete with arcane symbols, ethereal women, androgynous beings, chimeras, and incubi.

… proclaiming that art must be mystical, idealist, and in the service of ‘beauty.’ … He excluded history paintings, still lifes, rustic and domestic scenes, images of domestic and sporting animals, marines, and landscapes … [He] encouraged … to submit works representing legend, myth, allegory, dream, and literary narratives.

As the grand master of the order, Péladan assumed the title “Sâr Merodack”: Sâr  means leader in ancient Hebrew and Assyrian, while Merodack was supposedly … the name of a Babylonian king.”

… Regulation XVII [said]…: ‘No work by a woman will ever be exhibited or executed for the order.’ Nevertheless, women did exhibit surreptitiously under male names.

In one key respect, the Salons de la R+C fell short of what Péladan had initially envisioned, that is, to exhibit works by famous elder, proto-Symbolist crusaders, namely the triad of Puvis, Moreau and … Edward Burne-Jones. Well-established and aversed to the R+C’s cultish milieu, they refused Péladan’s invitation.

Vivien Greene, “Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose + Croix in Paris 1892-1897,” Published by Guggenheim Museum Publication, 2017


Marcellin Desboutin, “Portrait du Sâr Mérodack Joséphin Péladan”


“In the Paris of the early eighteen-nineties, at the height of the Decadence, the man of the moment was the novelist, art critic, and would-be guru Joséphin Péladan, who named himself Le Sâr. … He went about in a flowing white cloak, an azure jacket, a lace ruff, and an Astrakhan hat, which, in conjunction with his bushy head of hair and double-pointed beard, gave him the aspect of a Middle Eastern potentate. … He informed Félix Faure, the President of the Republic, that he had the gift of ‘seeing and hearing at the greatest distances, useful in controlling enemy councils and suppressing espionage.’ He began one lecture by saying, ‘People of Nîmes, I have only to pronounce a certain formula for the earth to open and swallow you all.’

In 1917, Max Weber said that the rationalization of Western society had brought about the “disenchantment of the world.” Péladan, and those who took up his mantle, wished to enchant it once again.

Péladan was born in Lyon, in 1858, into a family steeped in esoteric tendencies. His father, Louis-Adrien, was a conservative Catholic writer …. The political views of the Péladans were thoroughly reactionary; they disdained democracy and called for the restoration of the monarchy. Péladan differed from many other occultists in insisting that his Rosicrucian rhetoric was an extension of authentic Catholic doctrine, which Church institutions had neglected.

What Péladan took from Wagner, above all, was the idea that art could assume the functions of religion. ‘The artist is a priest, a king, a magus,’ he proclaimed.

Back in the mid-eighteen-eighties, the Greek-born poet Jean Moréas, who coined the term Symbolism, had renounced the depiction of concrete phenomena; Symbolist writers, he declared, gestured instead toward a primordial Idea, which could be conjured by ‘pure sounds,’ ‘densely convoluted sentences,’ and ‘knowingly organized disorder.’ Michelle Facos and Thor Mednick, in their recent anthology ‘The Symbolist Roots of Modern Art,’ observe that the Symbolists undermined conventional modes of representation in an effort to ‘access the divine directly.'”

Alex Ross, “The Occult Roots of Modernism”


Poster for the First Salon

Fernand Khnopff, “The Blood of Medusa”

Fernand Khnopff, “Magician”


Jean Delville, “The Women of Eleusis”

Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau, “Orpheus in Hades”

Alphonse Osbert, “Songs of the Night”

Carlos Schwabe, “Pain”

Carlos Schwabe, “Day of Death”


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10 Responses to The Salon de la Rose † Croix

  1. What fabulous images – loved your Gilgamesh post too, am saving it for when I have time to savour. And – signed up for the course you recommended. Thanks, Monika!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That makes me really happy, Anne! Isn’t Venus retrograde in Gemini (on my Sun and Mercury) ideal for exploring (literary) beauty? Thank you for everything.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are most welcome, Monika. I love your site.

        ps just to let you know that I’ve been locked out of my whole Facebook account – apparently they are protecting everyone’s security by doing so – the third time something like this has happened to me in less than a year. Strange to be perceived as a threat to the known world, especially since I ‘ve done nothing to merit that distinction! So that’s why I’ve vanished from FB…

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m shocked, I’m dismayed… Is this the karma of the 12th house? I really don’t understand why.


      • Well, I’m trying to understand that too. I suspect it’s tr Uranus in my 9th applying square to natal Mercury then all the 12th House Leo planets…a new direction calling, but what it is as yet I don’t expect to know until it’s ready to reveal itself…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful art thanks for the beauty and interesting background on Joséphin Péladan,

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome and thank you very much for stopping by. He was such a character, wasn’t he? Notwithstanding the aspects that I certainly oppose to in his manifesto, symbolist art is breathtaking.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. lampmagician says:

    Fascinating post! I can just repeat myself 😉😂Thanks a lot Monika 🙏💖
    Sincerely Aladin Fazel 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

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