Joséphin Péladan 1858-1918
For his part, Joséphin Péladan – that admirable artist to whom the future will render justice at the final reckoning, in judging him apart from the perhaps too original aspects of his work – took the head of a movement to spiritualize aestheticism… which will have profound repercussions on contemporary art. (Papus, Les sciences maudites, 1900)1
I am a PhD candidate at the Centre for the Study of Myth at the University of Essex. My PhD thesis focuses on the life and work of Joséphin Péladan: a full scale review of his work in the context of the history of Western Esotericism, and an attempt to reexamine and where necessary, rehabilitate the man and his work.
History has not been kind to Josephin Péladan. An enormously prolific author with a vision for societal reform through art, he is usually consigned to a footnote or a few lines in scholarly overviews of Rosicrucianism or the French occult revival. Portrayed as an eccentric oddity, his defining characteristic is that of contradiction and paradox.