Eisenloeffel, Laren, Netherlands
E.J. Van Wisselingh & Co., Amsterdam (acquired by 1955)
D. B. Findlay, New York (acquired from the above in 1958)
Private Collection (acquired circa 1989)
Galerie Art Point, Tokyo (acquired by 1991)
Fuji International Art Company, Tokyo
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007
Amsterdam, E.J. van Wisselingh & Co., Maître français, XIXe et XXe siècles, 1955, no. 28
Amsterdam, E.J. van Wisselingh & Co., Maître français, XIXe et XXe, 1958, no. 36, illustrated in the catalogue
Tokyo, Fuji International Art Company, Redon, 1973, no. 12, illustrated in the catalogue
Tokyo, Isetan Museum, Odilon Redon, 1980, no. 25, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art & travelling in Japan, Odilon Redon, 1989, no. 46, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Odilon Redon employs myths as themes and subjects, often creating conceptual allusions to the classical past. Imbued in a mysterious aura of fantasy, the present work, depicting the female head of a Sphinx is wonderfully characteristic of the artist's Symbolist style.
The choice of subject matter in the present work, inspired by mythology, enables the artist to portray a visionary world from which time and realistic space are absent. Through the soft handling of coloured pastel and crayon, an array of cold and warm tones, the artist plays with suspending its figures in an undetermined reality. The deep blue veil surrounding the Sphinx's head seems to evoke traditional portrayals of a Madonna. The figure's wings and torso are rendered in bright pinks and harmonious pastel tones, creating a sharp contrast with the figure's more detailed head. Described in its subtleties by Alec Wildenstein as a 'delicate pastel', Sphinx is a 'monster full of grace, sheltering her seductive ambiguity behind her soft wings' (A. Wildenstein, Odilon Redon, Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint et dessiné, Mythes et Légendes, Paris, 1994, p. 85).
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