Between 1896 and 1900, upon Charles Meunier’s request, Carlos Schwabe executed twenty three illustrations for Les Fleurs du Mal.
This watercolor illustrates the poem Le tonneau de la Haine. The artist fusions his personal interpretation to Baudelaire’s intention, hence not conforming to a simple illustration of the poem. Indeed, Baudelaire rhymes “Hate” with “Hydre de Lerne”, a nine-headed mythological animal, whereas Carlos Schwabe prefers the yet monstrous, human representation of the Medusa.
Gazing into the Medusa’s eyes turns the onlooker to stone. Hideous, old and repellant, she is in stark contrast with the youth, beauty and softness of her victims. The rocky icy landscape as well as the use of grey and blue shades serve to accentuate the terrifying presence of the Medusa.
Another painting of the same subject matter is conserved at the public and university Library of Geneva.
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