In this remarkable painting by symbolist painter Odilon Redon we see an indefinable space, but recognize certain clear elements. In the lower foreground Redon depicted flowers, mysteriously dark at the ground but defined in a rather light green in the tops. The attention of the viewer is attracted along a field of dark red paint to the bright red flowers in the upper left. A colour palette of red, brown and green predominates the scene.
When we look at the painting closer, a face becomes clear; a Christ-like ‘en profil’ portrait. Redon only described the outlines of the face; leaving open the conception of the face. However, it is to be seen how Redon subtly constructed the paint as if following a facial form; a light darker area where the eye should be and a thick, but smooth application on the cheekbone. Subsequently, the leafed branches of the red flowers start forming a crown of thorns, the dark red colour symbolizing the suffering of the Son of God, whose blood reconciled mankind with His Father.
Anonymous sale. Christies Amsterdam. 1 December 1998, lot 229;
Anonynous sale. Sotheby's New York. 11 November 1999 lot 233;
Private collection, United States
Bertrand-Jean Redon, better known as Odilon Redon, was born in 1840 in Bordeaux and was a French Symbolist painter. The Symbolist movement is considered a descendant of Romanticism which came into being as a reaction against Realism in painting and literature, and against industrialisation in life. Symbolist artists preferred expressions based on emotion, intuition, and inner force, rat . . .