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Baronne de Domecy
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Odilon Redon
French, about 1900
Pastel and graphite on light brown laid paper
24 x 16 11/16 in.
2005.1

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Gazing out hypnotically, the Baronne de Domecy appears removed from the material world, both physically and emotionally. The contrast between the sitter's monochromatic face and the explosion of multicolored, dreamlike flowers emphasizes the baroness' state of withdrawal and reverie. Neither entirely stylized nor precisely defined, the almost hallucinatory flora seems to float on the portrait's surface, as if projecting the sitter's inner vision. Do these flowers spring forth from the earth or from the depths of the imagination?

Odilon Redon executed this pastel portrait of the wife of his patron and friend, Baron Robert de Domecy, shortly after he had completed an ambitious cycle of decorative paintings for their château. The unconventional portrait likeness combines a delicate pencil rendering of the sitter's face, the tan paper ground serving as her "skin," with thickly applied red and blue pastel for her clothing. The muted blues of her jacket seem to bleed into the adjacent flowers, bridging sitter and surroundings. Reflecting Redon's fascination with underwater life, these prevalent blues, alongside notes of green and purple, also conjure up an aquatic world with its hidden depths and elusive meanings.