The term came into use in the 1880s with, for example, the French journal Le Décadent published in 1886. Decadents were inspired partly by a disgust at the corruption and rampant materialism of the modern world and partly by a related desire to escape it into realms of the aesthetic, fantastic, erotic or religious.
In art it can be seen as a key influence on the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and then Edward Coley Burne-Jones in Britain and also Aubrey Beardsley and Simeon Solomon. Other artists working within the decadent mode were Khnopff, Moreau and Rops. Key books include Huysmans’ A Rebours (Against Nature) and Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray.