Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
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Odilon Redon (1840-1916)

Fleurs dans une cruche bleue

Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
Fleurs dans une cruche bleue
signed 'ODILON REDON' (lower left)
pastel on buff paper
24 3/4 x 20 3/8 in. (62.7 x 51.7 cm.)
C. W. Kraushaar, New York.
Harry Goldschmidt, Paris.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York.
Charles L. Kuhn, New York, by 1950, and thence by descent.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York, by whom acquired from
the above in 1990.
Anonymous sale, Christie’s, New York, 10 May 2001, lot 106.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
K. Berger, Odilon Redon, Phantasie und Farbe, Cologne, 1964, no. 483 (dated ‘circa 1910’).
A. Wildenstein, Odilon Redon, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint et dessiné, vol. III, Fleurs et paysages, Paris, 1996, no. 1473 (illustrated p. 87).
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Adrienne Everwijn-Dumas
Adrienne Everwijn-Dumas

Lot Essay

After 1895, Redon began to work frequently in pastel with a confidence that his most dedicated clientele, who were ardent collectors of his black-and-white (noir) drawings, would embrace his new drawings in colour. In a group exhibition at Galerie Durand-Ruel in March 1899, he exhibited seven pastels, as well as several charcoal drawings and an oil painting, alongside works of the Nabi artists and other Post-Impressionists. All of his pastels were sold, and their successful reception encouraged Redon to experiment further with the medium.

This new interest in drawing with colour coincided with an increasing appearance of floral imagery in Redon's works. Indeed, the pure and varied colours of flowers, which Redon called "admirable prodigies of light" (quoted in M. Wilson, Nature and Imagination, The Work of Odilon Redon, London, 1978, p. 76), were an ideal basis for Redon's experimentation with colour in both pastels and oil paints. Whilst his final compositions are lush and almost-tropical in appearance, his subjects were ordinary garden and field flowers, and, in fact, he liked to cut them himself in a garden he and his wife tended on their property in Bièvres. Rather than paint gardens en plein air, as Monet liked to do, Redon preferred to stage his flowers away from nature, arranging them in a vase on a table or mantel.

In many of the floral pastels he uses the paper colour as a ground, as in the present work, creating a flat space against which to contrast the delicate strokes of the pastel sticks. His pastel compositions, with the airy, fleeting effects so typical of the medium, closely mirror the Chinese or Japanese model of depicting nature in a stylized manner within a decorative context. One of the most characteristic features of the flower pieces is the balance between vision and naturalism, the ambiguity between fantasy and reality. The present work perfectly encapsulates Redon’s vibrant use of colour through his mastery of the medium of pastel. In his hands the medium was capable of rendering form in a light and delicate manner with brilliant and luminous colour. His aim in these still lifes was to transform nature into poetry.

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