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    Sale 7735

    Impressionist/Modern Evening Sale

    23 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 36

    Odilon Redon (1840-1916)

    Le cauchemar (Les trois masques; Vision; Origines)

    Price Realised  


    Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
    Le cauchemar (Les trois masques; Vision; Origines)
    signed 'ODILON REDON' (lower left)
    charcoal on paper
    18 1/8 x 14¼ in. (45.9 x 36.4 cm.)
    Executed in 1881

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    Le cauchemar is the earlier of two Redon drawings from the same private collection which are being offered in these sessions (see L'homme aux lauriers, to be sold 24 June 2009, lot 134). The present drawing is a classic noiri as Redon called his extensively worked charcoal compositions -- it depicts several grotesque and tormented figures who mysteriously indulge in some macabre play, within a tenebrous and menacing setting. This drawing moreover has the distinction of having been included in the artist's second solo exhibition in Paris, which comprised 21 drawings, two etchings and the set of six lithographs in the album A Edgar Poë, and was held in the offices of the daily newspaper Le Gaulois in March 1882.

    Emile Hennequin, a young staff writer at Le Gaulois, penned the only two reviews that were published at that time, but his insights, which were based partly on an interview with Redon, served to introduce the artist's work to a wider public and attract the interest of important literary figures of the day. Joris-Karl Huysmans later published an essay about the Le Gaulois exhibition, and subsequently described Redon's noirs at length in his influential novel A Rebours, 1884, lending considerable notoriety to the artist's growing reputation. Huysmans called Redon 'the prince of mysterious dreams' (quoted in D.W. Druick and P. K. Zegers, exh. cat., op. cit., Chicago 1995, p. 145).

    Redon wrote two brief descriptions of Le cauchemar in his account books, and he probably discussed the drawing in similar terms with Hennequin, who provided further embellishments in his reviews: 'a bony monk, with a ruthless mien, calmly holds in hand the ghastly face of a seminarian, replete with bile and oiliness, while in the corner of the cell, appears, from out of nowhere, a big-nosed and thick-lipped face, with its little piglet eye full of bestial contentment' (quoted in ibid., p.137).

    Hennequin assessed the novelty in Redon's work as having its antecedents in the writings of Baudelaire and Poe, and in the nightmarish scenes of Goya's Caprichos. Redon also drew upon his interest in natural history and evolutionism, and alluded to local folk legends, filled with demons, monsters and sorcerers, from the oral tradition of his native Médoc, whose bleak and forbidding landscapes also found their way into the noirs. Hennequin declared that Redon 'has conquered the desolate region which exists on the borders of the real and the fantastic. Alone among all our artists -- painters, writers and musicians -- he appears to have achieved the absolute originality which is today, in our aged world, the ultimate merit. He alone is unique in rendering, by certain symbols and subtle syntheses, our most profound modern ideas about corruption, depravity, guile and their opposites, beauty and grandeur' (quoted in S.F. Eisenman, The Temptation of Saint Redon, Chicago, 1992, p. 103).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    René Philipon, Paris, by whom acquired on 25 May 1895.
    Re-acquired by the artist.
    Gustave Fayet, Béziers, by whom acquired from the above in June 1904. Private collection, France.
    Anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 15 June 1991, lot 11.
    Marc de Montebello, New York.
    Galerie Hopkins-Thomas, Paris, by 1995.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1996.

    Pre-Lot Text



    E. Hennequin, 'Beaux-Arts. Odilon Redon', in La Revue littéraire et artistique, 4 March 1882, p. 137.
    R. Bacou, Odilon Redon, vol. I, Geneva, 1956, p. 69 (illustrated vol. II, no. 17, fig. 17).
    A. Watt, 'Paris Commentary', in The Studio, March 1957, p. 89.
    K. Berger, Odilon Redon, Phantasie und Farbe, Cologne, 1964, no. 596.
    'De autobiografie van Odilon Redon', in Jong Holland, 1994, no. 3, p. 10 (illustrated fig. 3).
    A. Wildenstein, Odilon Redon, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné, vol. II, Paris, 1994, no. 1172 (illustrated p. 218); vol. IV, Paris, 1998, p. 318.


    Paris, Le Gaulois, Odilon Redon, fusains et estampes, February 1882 (titled 'Le cauchemar').
    Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Exposition Odilon Redon, March - April 1894, no. 21 (titled 'Cauchemar').
    (probably) Weimar, Grossherzogliches Museum für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe, Deutsche und französische Impressionisten und Neo-Impressionisten, August 1903, no. 44 (titled 'Alpdrücken').
    Paris, Musée d'arts décoratifs, Odilon Redon, exposition rétrospective de son oeuvre, March 1926, no. 203 (titled 'Origines').
    Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Odilon Redon, October 1956 - January 1957, no. 28 (titled 'Vision').
    Bordeaux, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Bosch, Goya et le Fantastique, May - July 1957, no. 343 (titled 'Vision').
    Chicago, The Art Institute, Odilon Redon, Prince of Dreams, July - September 1994, no. 65 (illustrated p. 141, fig. 28, titled 'Le cauchemar'); this exhibition later travelled to Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Vincent Van Gogh, October 1994 - January 1995 and London, The Royal Academy of Arts, February - May 1995.
    Paris, Galerie Hopkins-Thomas, Salon des Beaux-Arts de Paris, September 1995.
    New York, Marc de Montebello Fine Art, 19th and 20th Century Paintings and Drawings, October - November 1995 (illustrated).
    Lugano, Museo cantonale d'arte, Odilon Redon, La natura dell'invisibile, September - November 1996, no. 39 (illustrated p. 178, fig. 39).