Artibus et Historiae no. 14 (VII)

1986, ISSN 0391-9064

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GIUSEPPINA DAL CANTON - Redon and Melancholy

First a summary is made of Redon's notes on Dürer and particularly on Melencolia I, then an examination is made of the various types of treatment Redon himself gave the iconographic theme of melancholy; those, for the most part from his younger years, in which his taking up the theme again does not seem to benefit from the profound original meaning of Dürer's work, others in which on the other hand, that meaning not only is grasped but gets reproposed in an altogether original way, and finally others that are "variations on a theme", works which consciously or not are drawn from Melancholy I or more simply contain "quotations" or elements drawn from it.

In particular, Redon's recovery of the alchemistic meaning of melancholy is put into relation with esoteric culture and with the hermetic tradition, which had a rather noteworthy vitality and importance in French symbolist culture and especially in the circles Redon assiduously frequented.

Furthermore in a group of Redon's works, in addition to alchemistic motives gnostic motives are detected and Gustave Flaubert's Tentation de Saint Antoine is identified as the principal source of these.

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