Carlos Schwabe was born in Germany in 1866 and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, receiving his artistic training at the École des Arts Décoratifs. He moved to Paris in 1890, where he became involved within Symbolist circles, winning favour as an illustrator of mystical religious themes, such as his poster for the first Salon de la Rose+Croix in 1892. This annual exhibition in Paris showcased mystical Symbolist art, particularly a hermetic, numinous vein of Symbolism that was favoured by Péladan and dominant during the 1890s, a time when religious and occult practices often intertwined.
In this exquisite watercolour, Schwabe depicts the gate to paradise in ancient mythology, the “Champs Élysées”, in front of which an angel welcomes souls. The threshold of the door is covered with roses and thorns which symbolize the joys and trials of life whilst showcasing a masterful attention to botanical detail and desire for precision. The angel plays a lyre under a large oleander. Beyond the Golden Gate lush vegetation and columns of ancient architecture are visible.
Executed in 1907, this watercolour was later used by Schwabe as a model for an oil on canvas representing the same subject and bearing the same title, exhibited in 1910 in Zurich during the inauguration of the new Kunstmuseum.
We are grateful to Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond for his assistance in cataloguing the present lot. The work is offered with a certificate of authenticity from Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond dated 25 March 2021.