© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

This early drawing by Redon depicts a figure from a Gascon folktale, a giant called Drac who is endowed with supernatural powers. Since the escape of his beloved, whom he had held captive, the giant perpetually scours a lake in search of her. Here, the cliffs and cloud visible in the background are almost dwarfed by the giant, who walks across the surface of the lake. He wears a Phrygian cap, which is associated with antiquity but may also symbolize the pursuit of liberty in revolution-era France. The motif of the giant also makes reference to evolutionary theories that associated the origins of the indigenous French race with the Cro-Magnon man, who was believed to be taller than contemporary man because of the larger size of his skull.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Odilon Redon, French (Bordeaux, France 1840 - 1916 Paris, France)
Allegorical Figure (The Giant)
Work Type
19th-20th century
Physical Descriptions
Graphite on cream wove paper, darkened
24.4 x 28 cm (9 5/8 x 11 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Philip Hofer
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Agnes Mongan and Paul J. Sachs, Drawings in the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, 1940), no. 719, fig. 385

Sven Sandström, Le Monde Imaginaire d'Odilon Redon (London, England, 1955), pp. 37-38, repr. p. 37, fig. 27

Visionaries and Dreamers, exh. cat., Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C, 1956), p. 10, no. 62

Klaus Berger, Odilon Redon: Fantasy and Colour, McGraw-Hill Book Company (New York, Toronto, London, 1965), p. 235, no. 729

Sarah Whitfield, The Academic Tradition: An Exhibition of Nineteenth-century French Drawings, exh. cat., Indiana University Art Museum (Bloomington, IN, 1968), no. 84, repr.

Odilon Redon et les Problèmes de L'imagination dans la Peinture (I), Bijutsushi (March 1972), vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 119-142 + 162-63

Eric M. Zafran, Master Drawings from Titian to Picasso: The Curtis O. Baer Collection, exh. cat., High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA, 1985), p. 146, cat. no. 85, repr.

Alec Wildenstein, Odilon Redon: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné, Wildenstein Institute (Paris, 1992-1998), vol. 1, p. 231, no . 587, repr.

Stephen F. Eisenman, The Temptation of Saint Redon: Biography, Ideology, and Study in the Noirs of Odilon Redon, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, 1992), pp. 118 + 130 + 132, repr. p. 132

Barbara Larson, "Odilon Redon: Science and Fantasy in the Noirs" (1996), pp. 43 - 44 + 372, repr. p. 372

Barbara Larson, The Dark Side of Nature: Science, Society, and the Fantastic in the Work of Odilon Redon, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA, 2005), p. 62, fig. 52

Exhibition History

The Academic Tradition: An Exhibition of Nineteenth-Century French Drawings arranged by the Indiana University Art Museum, Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, 06/19/1968 - 08/11/1968

Flowers of Evil: Symbolist Drawings, 1870–1910, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu