Jul 10, 2007

Symbolic Head

Symbolic Head

c. 1890

Odilon Redon

(French, 1840–1916)

Oil on paper mounted on canvas

Framed: 69 x 54.5 x 7.5 cm (27 3/16 x 21 7/16 x 2 15/16 in.); Unframed: 53.3 x 38 cm (21 x 14 15/16 in.)

Gift of the Mildred Andrews Fund 1988.91

Did you know?

Symbolism was a reaction against Realism and Redon is one of the most important artists affiliated with this movement. The symbolist painters used mystical dreamlike images that were highly personal in their work.


One of Redon’s favorite themes was a head depicted in profile, sometimes separated from the body to symbolize the spirit released from the material world. It also suggests a metaphor for abandoning physical reality for the inner realm of dreams, fantasy, and poetic reverie. This painting conveys the idea of inward-turning vision by framing the head in a series of collapsing rectangles. Conservation analysis confirms that the figure is a woman wearing a helmet and holding a green staff in her right hand.

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.