Symbolism is a late 19th century art movement began in France. In typical terms, symbolism is the systematic or creative use of arbitrary symbols as abstracted representations of concepts or objects and the distinct relationship in between.In peculiar context, symbolism is the applied use of any iconic representaions which carry particular conventional meanings. When it was started the main themes were decadence ,dandyism and mysticism which were said to be taken from the novels of J.K.Huysman.
This intellectual movement was reflected in many art forms and painting was not out of this bouquet.
Symbolism in painting had even a wider geographical reach than symbolism in other art forms like poetry.In painting symbolism was a continuation of some mystic thought process in the Romantic Tradition. The mystical and visionary works of Piranesi,Fuselli, Goya and friedrich had the traces of symbolism in their works. The art of Symbolist painters like Puvis de Chavannes and Eugene Carriere was marked by a desire to use evocative subjects and images rather than explicit analogy or direct description.
The Symbolist painters explored mythology and dream imagery for a visual language of the soul, seeking evocative paintings that brought to mind a static world of silence. The symbols used in Symbolism are not the familiar signs of mainstream iconography but solemnly personal, private, obscure and ambiguous references.Symbolism refers to more of philosophy than actual style of art.On the following course of time symbolist painters influended the contemporary Art Nouveau movement and Les Nabis. Symbolist painters seem to be the predecessors of Surrealists when they tend to explore the dreamlike subjects.