La Voile jaune (The Yellow Sail)

Creation date
pastel on paper
Mark Descriptions
signed L.L. corner: Odilon Redon
23x 18 1/2 in.
Credit line
The Lockton Collection
Accession number
Not Currently On View

Symbolist artist Odilon Redon created images that suggest mental states or spiritual realms rather than imitations of the visible world. While Redon was fascinated by recent scientific discoveries relating to the sea, this glowing pastel may have a more mystical inspiration. Does it refer to the final journey of the soul, symbolized by the gems, across the divide between life and death? The two women could be spiritual presences who attend the soul as guardian figures.

Redon's art was part of a broader European current that included Sigmund Freud's analysis of dreams and the founding of modern psychology.

Possibly sold at Hotel Drouot Paris in 1907.{1} Andries Bonger [1861-1936], Amsterdam;{2}by descent to his widow, Françoise Willemina Maria Bonger [1887-1975], Baroness van der Borch van Verwolde, Almen, The Netherlands.{3} (Galerie Durand-Matthiesen, Geneva). (World House Galleries, New York) by 1959. {4}(Helen Serger [d. 1989] Fine Arts, New York){5}; Larry Aldrich [1906-2001], New York and Ridgefield, Connecticut; sale (Parke-Bernet, New York) in 1963.{6}sale (Parke Bernet, New York) in 1967;{7}Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Lockton, Indianapolis; given to IMA in 1970 (70.78){8}.

{1}This early provenance is included in Alec Wildenstein, Odilon Redon: catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné, vol. 3, Paris 1996, see no. 1956. Wildenstein suggests that this pastel might have been included as no. 39 in Tableaux, aquarelles & pastels, Hotel Drouot, Paris, 11 March 1907.
{2}For information on Bonger's large collection of works by Redon, see M.D.Henkel, "Die Sammlung A. Bonger in Amsterdam," Der Cicerone, vol. 12 (1930): 597-603.
{3}The insurance agent Bonger became a close friend of Redon's and one of the foremost collectors of his work. (Because Bonger's sister Joanna married Theo van Gogh, Françoise Willemina Maria Bonger is often erroneously referred to as "Mme Van Gogh Bonger;" this mistake occurs in both Parke-Bernet auction catalogues listed below.)
{4}The pastel was included in the exhibition "Daumier to Picasso" held at the World House Galleries in February-March 1959, cat. no. 38 with the title "Mystic Sailing."
{5}Helen Serger first advertised her gallery in the New York Times in 1959. By 1964 she was the director of La Boetie, New York.
{6}Parke-Bernet, New York, Modern Paintings and Drawings from the Larry Aldrich Collection, 30 October 1963, lot no. 22 (ill.) This pastel was not included in exhibition that circulated the country, The Aldrich Collection, American Federation of Arts, October 1960-April 1962.
{7}Parke-Bernet, New York, Impressionist & Modern Paintings, 6 April 1967, lot no. 20 (ill.)
{8}IMA Temporary Receipt No. 8641.
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