Executed in 1898, this exquisitely coloured study was made in preparation for Khnopff's iconic Le sang de Méduse or Tête de Méduse of the same year (fig. 1). A lithograph of the composition was also printed in five examples.
Describing the composition, Michael Sagroske notes Khnopff's use of his source: 'the mythological figure is equipped with its characteristic attributes: the severed head, the snakes, and, under the bloodless neck, the rearing and ascending Pegasus is portrayed. The face, which forms the wide-set curve of an oval, takes up a better part of the sheet and is cut off at the forehead, just above the eyebrows, by the upper edge. [...] In its rigidity and lack of emotion, the face recalls a mask rather than a creature recently killed..' (M. Sagroske, in Fernand Khnopff (exhibition catalogue), Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, 2004, p. 57).
FIG. 1, Le sang de Méduse, Coloured crayons on paper, 21.2 by 13.4cm., Private Collection
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