Christ, or Christ with the Crown of Thorns
Lithograph on thin tan chine paper, 1887.
Reference: Mellerio 71.
This is a proof aside from the scarce edition of 25 on chine-collé, printed by Lemercier. The impression comes from the estate of the lithographic printer Auguste Clot. Whether this was printed by Clot or by Lemercier, in 1887 or later, is not known. It is however clear that this impression displays all the finesse and the clarity of the impressions on chine-collé. It makes it highly improbable that it is a transfer. We suspect the same stone used for the small edition was also used for this proof. We have found at least one other such impression on “chine volant” at auction in recent years.
Provenance: Auguste Clot, Paris.
Christ gazes sadly into the distance. He is not looking at us, but rather past us. It’s as if he were unable to look the viewer in the eyes, as if it was too painful to question the viewer directly about why they could have done what they did to him. His crown of thorns has been depicted as a tangle of wooden spikes or metal nails, darting into his head from all angles. There is no pain in his face, but rather despondent and sad resignation. His eyes are large, with the white of the eyeball seemingly ready to shed tears. Christ’s mouth is shut. He hasn’t yet suffered enough to question his Maker about the reason why He has forsaken him. That depth of pain is yet to come. Odilon Redon captures a moment in a journey, one known to all in France when he created this image in 1887. It should be placed in a long tradition of devotional imagery, intended to make the viewer reflect on compassion. Redon’s great artistry places the viewer at the side of Christ, as he has already suffered greatly, but before his crucifixion and demise, depicting the moment’s emotion vividly. This is one of Redon’s most iconic lithographs.