An international avant-garde artistic movement that began in France and spread across Europe and North America during the last two decades of the 19th century. Symbolist artists reacted against the rationalism and materialism dominating Western European culture with work that conveyed emotions or ideas, rather than representing the world in an objective or naturalistic manner. Symbolist artists often used color and line expressively to create scenes with figures drawn from biblical, mythological, or fantastical sources.