Odilon Redon: La Voile Jaune (c1905)

Odilon Redon La Voile jaune (The Yellow Sail), ca. 1905, Pastel on paper Indianapolis Museum of Art, image source: artsy.net

Who Is Odilon Redon?

Odilon Redon was a French symbolist painter, printmaker, draughtsman and pastellist.

 Known for his unique blend of artistic naturalism and symbolic subject matter, Odilon Redon was highly influential among the late 19th century French avant-garde circle. Working in charcoal, pastel, oil, and lithography, Redon created imaginative scenes that, while often based in the supernatural, were nonetheless executed in a highly representational manner. 

Odilon Redon, Self-Portrait, 1880, Musée d’Orsay, image via wikipedia

Redon considered this descriptive accuracy essential, writing

“every time that a human figure does not give the illusion that it is … about to come out of the picture frame to walk, act or think, the drawing is not a truly modern one.”                                                                                                   

from artsy.net

What is Symbolist Art?

Symbolist artist Odilon Redon created images that suggest mental states or spiritual realms rather than imitations of the visible world. While Redon was fascinated by recent scientific discoveries relating to the sea, this glowing pastel may have a more mystical inspiration.

Does it refer to the final journey of the soul, symbolized by the gems, across the divide between life and death? The two women could be spiritual presences who attend the soul as guardian figures. Redon’s art was part of a broader European current that included Sigmund Freud’s analysis of dreams and the founding of modern psychology.  

( Google Arts and Culture)

Redon was influenced by the poetry of Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé and admired by the painters Gustave Moreau and Gustave Klimt—as such he is often remembered as a Symbolist, though Redon preferred autonomy and never actually considered himself part of the group.  ( from artsy.net)


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“La Voile jaune (The Yellow Sail)”by Odilon Redon,  Indianapolis Museum of Art, accessed online June 28, 2018, http://collection.imamuseum.org/artwork/33412/

Odilon Redon, “The Yellow Sail”, Artsy.net, accessed online June 28, 2018, https://www.artsy.net/artwork/odilon-redon-la-voile-jaune-the-yellow-sail

Odilon Redon, “The Yellow Sail”, Google Arts and Culture, accessed June 28, 2018, https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/la-voile-jaune-the-yellow-sail/UQEuu0rHoS0Z7A

Thanks for Visiting 🙂


7 Comments Add yours

  1. roos says:

    it was very unusual in them days to have two woman sailing a boat i wonder what the message was behind them woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! I plead ignorance here — though I do love this painting, I have no idea about what the artist wanted to say by painting two women. His paintings always look like they are in another world altogether to me.

      Thanks for commenting. I have been captivated by your blog – you introduced me to the concept of land art — truly beautiful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. J’adore Odilon Redon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this painting and some of his other sailing paintings so much when I first discovered them I had to try to recreate them myself in watercolor. They hang on my wall still.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How lovely! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Deborah. 🙂🌺


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