Gustave Moreau was born on April 6, 1826 in Paris. His father was an architect, who recognized his talent.
Moreau's main focus was the illustration of mythological and Christian figures. As a painter of literary ideas rather than visual images, his images appealed to the imagination of some Symbolist artists, who saw him as the precursor to their movement.
He became professor at École des Beaux-Arts of Paris in 1891 and counted among his students the fauvist painters Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault.
Moreau had a 25-year personal relationship, possibly romantic, with Adelaide-Alexandrine Dureux, a woman whom he drew several times.
He died on April 18, 1898 and is buried in Paris at the Cimetière de Montmartre.