Symbolism was a late 19th-century movement which arose in dramatically changing times: industrial revolution, rural exodus, population growth, the development of socialism, the emergence of biology and the evolutionist theory, awareness of the ‘self’ and the role of conscience. It evolved as a reaction against materialism, positivism and realism in art. Although admittedly reactionary, it influenced the advent of Modernism and heralded movements such as Abstraction and Surrealism. Upholding a perception of reality infused with spirituality, Symbolist artists favoured the subtle expression of moods, ima- ginary worlds and dreams, and were naturally fascinated by the elusive, ever-changing nature of the liquid element with its infinite poetic variations and powerful mythological and symbolic imagery. Water is both surface and depth, purveyor of death or life-giving energy, opaque or transparent, crashing waves or total peaceful calm; it also expresses the strong polarization which inspired Symbolism, oscillating between the blackest pessimism and idealism, the quest for a new formal language or the return to pre-Renaissance roots. The exhibition aims to reveal all Symbolism’s different facets through the prism of water whose rich and varied repertoire was to inspire painters, sculptors, poets, musicians, cabinetmakers, glassmakers and ceramists. Part of the exhibition will travel and be shown at the Musée Félicien Rops, in Namur, Belgium.