The Red Sphinx

Odilon Redon: Born in Bordeaux, France in 1840 and died in Paris in 1916.

Pictured is “The Red Sphinx” circa 1910, oil on canvas, 100cm x 80cm, which is now in a private collection in Switzerland.

The Red Sphinx is typical of Redon’s poetic style which was popular with, and certainly influenced, many of the Surrealists. At the start of the 20th century he was little known, but works like The Red Sphinx and other decorative, colour rich, flower pictures boosted his popularity and he is now a highly sought after artist.

He originally trained as an architect but didn’t really shine in this profession and gradually developed artistically after working in the studio of Brestin, a Bordeaux-based printer.

For about 30 years after 1870, he almost entirely worked in black and white, using materials like charcoal and pencil, as well as producing etchings. He found inspiration in landscape which echoed his mournful ‘black and white’ vision.

He developed a highly stylised symbolic art influenced by philosophy and literature, as well as by Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species‘. In the late 1880s he became one of the leading Symbolists and a few years later began using colourful media including oils and pastels.

Other well known works by Redon include ‘Sita‘ (circa 1893) and ‘Flower clouds‘ (circa 1903 ) – both of these are in the Art Institute of Chicago, USA.

Guest author Tim Hill, is a UK-based art enthusiast.

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