Jean Delville (19 January 1867, Leuven – 1953) was a Belgian symbolist painter, writer, and occultist. In 1896, he founded the Salon d’Art Idealiste, which is considered the Belgian equivalent to the Parisian Rose & Cross Salon and the Pre-Raphaelite movement in London.
Delville became committed to spiritual and esoteric subjects during his early twenties. In 1887 or 1888 he spent a period in Paris, where he met Sâr Joséphin Péladan, an eccentric mystic and occultist, who defined himself as a modern Rosicrucian, descended from the Persian Magi. Delville was struck by a number of Péladan’s ideas, among them his vision of the ideal artist as a spontaneously developed initiate, whose mission was to send light, spirituality and mysticism into the world.
Despite all his work and ability, however, Delville never achieved the recognition he would have liked. By 1951, Delville had become almost completely ignored and forgotten. He died two years later and did not live to see the revival of interest in his work. Today Delville’s pictures are once again recognised for their unusual qualities.