Symbolism was a European art and literary movement. It is the use of symbols to represent a complex concept or "hidden" idea. Symbolism has its origins in France in the 1880s, where it arose as a reaction against the pragmatic realism of Courbet and impressionism. Its exponents wanted to express ideas or abstractions, rather than simply imitate the visible world.
Another less dynamic trend introduced formal innovations into traditional painting. Its chief exponents were Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon, and Puvis de Chavannes. Outside France, Burne-Jones and Munch are considered as symbolists.
In literature, the movement included a group of poets active in the 19th century, who were followers of Verlaine and Baudelaire, such as Mallarmé and Rimbaud in France, and Poe and Swinburne in the US and Britain. The Symbolist Movement consisted of French poets and symbolists with a goal of spreading symbolism throughout the world.