- Gallery Text
This watercolor is characteristic of many works on paper that Redon created during the last decade of his career. With spontaneity and a penchant for ornament, he returned to themes that were dear to him and freely appropriated traditional subjects, such as the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. Redon depicts the moment when the saint is assaulted with arrows, but he eliminates all narrative elements and, as for setting, retains only the tree to which Sebastian is tied, signifying the union of man and nature. He is shown in a curiously restful pose that further distinguishes him from the usual religious imagery, in which the saint’s body appears tense and contorted. While lacking any determinate iconographic or iconic identity, the outline motif is richly suggestive. It may bring to mind the mandorla of medieval Christian art or the auras depicted by the theosophists of Redon’s time; alternatively, it may prompt associations with the organic world.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Odilon Redon, French (Bordeaux, France 1840 - 1916 Paris, France)
- Saint Sebastian
- Other Titles
- Alternate Title: Mystical Personality of Saint Sebastian; Mystical Saint Sebastian
- Work Type
- before 1910
- Physical Descriptions
- Watercolor and gouache on off-white wove paper
- actual: 23.4 x 15.3 cm (9 3/16 x 6 in.)
- (?) Bauchy (Wildenstein 1992-98, vol. 1 , no. 534); his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 20, 1923, no. 52; acquired at that sale through Martin Birnbaum by Grenville L. Winthrop, April 1930; his bequest to the Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- European and American Art
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- Publication History
Klaus Berger, Odilon Redon: Fantasy and Colour, McGraw-Hill Book Company (New York, Toronto, London, 1965), no. 534, pl. 24
Alec Wildenstein, Odilon Redon: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné, Wildenstein Institute (Paris, 1992-1998), vol. 1, no. 534, repr.
Douglas Druick, Odilon Redon: Prince of Dreams, 1840-1916, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, 1994), pp. 349 (fig. 116), 350
Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (New York, 2003), cat. no. 109, repr. (color)
Franklin Einspruch, Fuse Visual Art Review: A Pair of Drawing Shows at the Harvard Art Museums, The Arts Fuse ([e-journal], June 9, 2016), http://artsfuse.org/146319/fuse-visual-arts-review-a-pair-of-drawing-shows-at-the-harvard-art-museums/, accessed June 9, 2016
- Exhibition History
Paysages d'après nature: Aquarelles et dessins par Odilon Redon, Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 04/18/1917 - 04/28/1917
A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/23/2003 - 01/25/2004
Flowers of Evil: Symbolist Drawings, 1870–1910, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016
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