The term "Nabi," (from the Hebrew word for "prophet"), was coined in 1888 by a group of symbolist painters who favored arbitrary color and nonrealistic shapes. Maurice Denis, a leading figure in the group, wrote a manifesto in 1890, that enumerated the main principles held by the artists. It was not the purpose of art to imitate nature, he wrote, but to give expression to feelings. He also stressed that, before a painting could represent its subject-whether a horse, a nude, or anecdotal theme-it was first and foremost a flat surface covered with colors arranged in a certain fashion. This outlook, somewhat radical for its time, established Denis and the Nabis as precursors of abstract art.