Allegorie: Un arbre rouge non rougi par le soleil

Odilon Redon1905/1905

Mie Prefectural Art Museum

Mie Prefectural Art Museum
Tsu, Japan

An allegory is a mode of expression that suggests something by using an indirect, roundabout means of communication. The two things do not usually have a clear, obvious relationship. The representation is metaphorical in nature and stands in place of what it is attempting to express. For that reason, some artists tend to dislike it when people place emphasis on what the artist is trying to express, not how he or she is expressing it. The question of how the artist is expressing something is often as important, if not more important, than the central theme of the work. This work features a beautiful nude youth standing with a veiled woman – a combination that immediately brings to mind Christ and the Virgin Mary. The mysterious curving lines around the man’s feet also catch one’s attention. Although one might search for an explanation of the work in scripture or ancient mythology, it is difficult to find an explanation that completely accounts for all the elements of the painting. In fact, it seems doubtful that there ever was a meaning to tie them all together. The colors that fill the canvas are uneasily beautiful, almost as if they were making fun of us as we flip through our tomes, obsessed with solving the riddle of this painting. The painting shows us a tree that burns with life. Filling the background behind it is a silence as deep as the sea. Instead of searching for some overly serious interpretation that will guide our discussion of the painting like some traffic signal, perhaps the best way to enjoy the painting is simply to entrust oneself to the undulations of color and form in it.


  • Title: Allegorie: Un arbre rouge non rougi par le soleil
  • Date: 1905/1905
  • painter: REDON, Odilon
  • Physical Dimensions: w35.5 x h46 cm (complete)
  • Artist Name (Japanese): ルドン、オディロン
  • Provenance: Mie Prefectural Art Museum
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Mie Prefectural Art Museum

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