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An image of The reader by Odilon Redon

Odilon Redon

(France 1840 – 1916)

The reader
Alternative title:
Le Liseur
Media category
Materials used
only state, edition of 50

31.0 x 23.5 cm image; 62.0 x 44.1 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed u.l., pencil "ODILON REDON". Not dated.
Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1978
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Odilon Redon was a private, visionary artist influenced by Francisco Goya Y Lucientes as well as the writers Edgar Allan Poe and Gustave Flaubert, giving form to dreams and fantasies in the age of Symbolism. In this print, however, he is clearly the pupil of Rodolphe Bresdin, and it is thought the figure may be a portrait of Bresdin. According to Redon scholar Edward Gott, "'The reader', the isolated figure dressed in vague hermit-like garb, the gloomy interior lit by a single window, the book and candlestick, are all taken from the prototype of Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn's 'St Jerome in a dark chamber'. Redon achieves an effect of ascetic illumination redolent of abandoned time and worldly neglect, through the slow massing of myriad cobweb-like scratchings across the lithographic stone. This is surely intended to call to mind the action of the etching needle moving across the surface of a copper plate. The mastery of Redon's 'Reader' lies in its ability to transfer the impression of Rembrandt's etching medium into lithography."

AGNSW Handbook, 1994

Bibliography (6)

Richard Beresford', Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years, 'Transformation: Society's gifts of enriching art from Europe help collection turnaround', pg.45-7, Newtown, May 2003, 47, 56.

Nicolas Draffin, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Prints and Drawings - Australia, European and American', pg. 47-66, Sydney, 1981, 58 (illus.). 22

Renée Free, Fin de Siècle, Sydney, Jan 1994.

Renée Free, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 136 (colour illus.).

Vaughan Rees, Art-i-facts: Book Two, an exploration of ideas in drawing, Roseville, 1998, 58 (illus.).

David Tunny, Look, 'Benefactors fill funding gap for gallery', pg. 22-23, Heidelberg, May 1996, 23 (illus.).

Exhibition history (3)

Three years on: acquisitions 1978-81, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1981–01 Dec 1981

Fin de Siècle: posters prints drawings from the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Jan 1994–13 Mar 1994

European prints and drawings 1500-1900, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Aug 2014–02 Nov 2014

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