Odilon Redon, The Spider, a lithograph

France, AD 1887

Apart from some unsuccessful early attempts at landscape painting, Redon (1840-1916) worked almost exclusively in black and white until he reached the age of 50. He produced many strange, evocative charcoal drawings that he called his 'noirs' ('black things').

Many of these, including The Spider, a drawing of 1881, were later worked up into lithographs in order to profit from greater distribution. This drawing was described by J.K. Huysmans in his classic novel of decadence A Rebours (1884, translated as Against Nature). The novel brought Redon much celebrity, and he was hailed as a master of Symbolist art. Redon himself always denied specific symbolic intent, preferring his art to live in 'the ambiguous world of the indeterminate'. In his later years he introduced colour into his works and his famous pastels of flowers belong to this stage of his career.

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More information


F. Carey and A. Griffiths, From Manet to Toulouse-Lautrec, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1978)

D. Druick, Odilon Redon 1840-1916 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1994)

R. Bacou, Odilon Redon: pastels (London, 1987)

T. Gott, The enchanted stone: the graph (Melbourne, Victoria, 1990)


Height: 260.000 mm
Width: 215.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1888-6-19-153



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