Friday, August 5, 2011

19 IMAGES FROM THE 19th CENTURY: PART 18 -The Calvary

Title: The Calvary
Artist: Odilon Redon
Medium: Pastel on cardboard
Size: 69 x 53 cm
Date: c. 1895
Location: Foundation E. G. Bührle Collection, Zurich.


Mark 15:25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.

Around the middle of the 1890s a religious mysticism takes the place of the dark visions of Redon’s work. Charcoal gives way to the bright pastel, and Christ figures prominently in his work. In "The Calvary" this new Redon, tense with religious hopes, tense also in the sense that he is subject to restrictive compulsions: the overemphasized "sacral" central axis of the Cross with the small crucified figure on the upper margin of the picture and the rigid, lamenting Mary in her red robe. It is to she whom the viewers eye is drawn, and we are forced to contemplate her plight, under Redon’s shimmering sky.

Bertrand-Jean Redon, better known as Odilon Redon (April 1840 – July 1916) was a French symbolist painter, printmaker, draughtsman and pastellist. The young Bertrand-Jean Redon acquired the nickname "Odilon" from his mother, Odile. Redon started drawing as a child, and at the age of ten he was awarded a drawing prize at school. Aged fifteen, he began the formal study of drawing, but on the insistence of his father he changed to architecture. His failure to pass the entrance exams at Paris’ École des Beaux-Arts ended any plans for a career as an architect. In the 1890s, pastel and oils became his favored media, and he produced no more noirs after 1900.

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