Fin de Siècle is a French phrase meaning ‘end of century’ and is applied specifically as a historical term to the end of the nineteenth century and even more specifically to decade of 1890s

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  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 'The Two Friends' 1894
    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
    The Two Friends 1894
    Oil on board
    support: 479 x 340 mm
    frame: 750 x 600 x 95 mm
    Bequeathed by Montague Shearman through the Contemporary Art Society 1940
  • Aubrey Beardsley, 'Design for the Frontispiece to John Davidson's Plays' 1894
    Aubrey Beardsley
    Design for the Frontispiece to John Davidson's Plays 1894
    Pen and ink, pencil and ink wash on paper
    support: 286 x 187 mm
    frame: 550 x 376 x 21 mm
    Bequeathed by John Lane 1926
  • Charles Conder, 'Portrait Study' circa 1901-6
    Charles Conder
    Portrait Study circa 1901-6
    Oil on board
    support: 432 x 318 mm
    Purchased 1930

Fin de Siècle is an umbrella term embracing symbolismdecadence and all related phenomena (e.g. art nouveau) which reached a peak in 1890s. Although almost synonymous with other terms such as the Eighteen-Nineties, the Mauve Decade, the Yellow Decade and the Naughty Nineties, the fin de siècle however expresses an apocalyptic sense of the end of a phase of civilisation. The real end of this era came not in 1900 but with First World War 1914. 

The spirit is exemplified in France by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and in Britain Aubrey Beardsley and Charles Conder.

Related glossary terms

Edwardian, symbolism, decadenceArt Nouveau