Odilon Redon’s fascination with Ophelia, the drowned character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is evident throughout his work. The French Symbolist artist created several pieces featuring Ophelia among flowers between 1900 and 1908. This period marked his departure from earlier grotesque and macabre subjects towards a new style characterized by color and sensuality.
Ophelia among the Flowers, believed to have been created between 1905-8, showcases Redon’s mastery of pastel on paper. During this time, he experimented with different techniques and materials to create colorful works of art that expressed emotions beyond what monochromatic compositions could do. Redon transitioned from ornamental to abstract painting in his works for the Château de Domecy in 1900-1901.
Redon frequently alluded to classic and contemporary literature in his work, including myths and legends. The drowned Ophelia served as an inspiration for him due to her tragic beauty, allowing him to evoke a range of emotions through his art. His use of color texture, shape, form creates drawings that are ethereal yet harsh at the same time- making them stand out.
Overall, Redon’s series featuring Ophelia among flowers is a testament to how an artist can draw inspiration from classic literature while creating something unique that captures their vision of its essence.