Running concurrent with the self-proclaimed literary Symbolists, a new school of artists extolling simple, peotic painting, opposed to naturalism and the virtuosity and vulgarity of academic art came to exist under the same title. Due to the wide diversity and sources of inspiration for these so-called Symoblist artists, they were unable to call themselves a 'school'. However, in a similar vein to the Mannerists of the sixteenth century these avant-garde artists were able to form a collective group whose limitations were defined by the common sources of inspiration, techniqe and ideal.
Jean Delville was among the united Belgian exponents that were generated from the incredible growth of literature that took place during the 1880s. Pledging allegiance to the imagination and the surreal, these artists were actively renouncing modernity and the growth of industrialisation that the enveloped their lives. Following a somewhat traditional artistic apprenticeship with artist Jan Portael in Brussels, he shifted towards Symbolism in 1887 at the tender age of 20. Building upon his acquaintances with the modern thinkers of the time, such as Peladan, the author and critic whose aesthetic ideas marked a return to an Ideal beauty from the Renaissance, Delville undertook to express these theories into pictorial form. Remaining faithful to his mentor's teachings even after Pheladan had retired from public life, Delville stated in 1899 '...Understood in its metaphysical sense, Beauty is one of the manifestations of the Absolute Being, Emanating from the harmonious rays of the Divine plane, it crosses the intellectual plane to shine once again across the natural plane, where it darkens into matter.' Generating the subject matter for his works, he drew upon his fascination and involvement with occultism, mythology, mysticism, idealism and esoterism. Combining his interest in these subjects, and with other religious and philosophical themes with his technical proficiency, his works emphasise line and his taste for monochromatic tones. L'Homme-Dieu is an important work, seeming to combine all of these influences, expressed with an overall subdued tone of blue that had become a very important factor in his work reflecting his theories upon the relationship between art and Theosophy.