The Two Graces

Odilon Redon (French, 1840 - 1916)

circa 1900. Oil on canvas, 16 1/2 x 11 3/8". 1991.001.054

Odilon Redon, like his fellow Symbolists, abandoned the Impressionists’ attempts to paint what they saw, preferring instead to paint a world of imagination, intuition, and emotion. Like his other works, The Two Graces captures Redon’s personal world—somewhere between the real and the unreal. In Greek mythology, three sister goddesses, “the Three Graces,” controlled pleasure, charm, and beauty for both humans and nature. According to myth, the Graces were inseparable. The two figures in this work represent both expectation and melancholic resignation because one of them is not present. Surrounded by an aura of golden rays, they emanate the ethereal quality of medieval icons.

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