Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the movement had its roots in Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil, 1857) by Charles Baudelaire. The works of Edgar Allan Poe, which Baudelaire greatly admired and translated into French, were a significant influence and the source of many stock tropes and images. The aesthetic was developed by Stephane Mallarme and Paul Verlaine during the 1860s and '70s. In the 1880s, the aesthetic was articulated through a series of manifestoes and attracted a generation of writers. The label "symbolist" itself comes from the critic Jean Moreas, who coined it in order to distinguish the symbolists from the related decadent movement in literature and art.
Distinct from, but related to, the movement in literature, symbolism in art represents an outgrowth of the darker, gothic side of Romanticism; but where Romanticism was impetuous and rebellious, symbolist art was static and hieratic.