Guardian Spirit of the Waters (1878) by Odilon Redon

Guardian Spirit of the Waters - Odilon Redon - 1878

Artwork Information

TitleGuardian Spirit of the Waters
ArtistOdilon Redon
Dimensions46.6 x 37.6 cm
Art MovementSymbolism
Current LocationThe Art Institute of Chicago

About Guardian Spirit of the Waters

The artwork titled “Guardian Spirit of the Waters” by artist Odilon Redon was created in 1878 and is a charcoal piece belonging to the Symbolism art movement. It measures 46.6 by 37.6 centimeters and is categorized under the genre of symbolic painting. The Art Institute of Chicago houses this notable work.

The artwork depicts an ethereal and somewhat ambiguous figure that appears to be emerging from or melding into the water. A prominent and oversized face occupies the upper portion of the composition, characterized by deep shading, intense eyes, and a contemplative expression. The face is rendered with soft edges, suggesting an otherworldly presence, and the overall effect is one of mystery and profundity, hallmarks of the Symbolist movement. Below the face, a tranquil expanse of water stretches to the horizon, where a diminutive sailboat can be seen, its scale further amplifying the monumentality of the guardian spirit above it. Birds are scattered across the sky and water, adding life and motion to the scene. The use of charcoal allows for a rich interplay of light and shadow, imbuing the artwork with a sense of depth and texture while simultaneously conveying the spirit’s ephemeral quality.

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