In classical mythology, Pandora was a supremely beautiful woman created by the gods and sent to Earth to live among mortals. Redon depicts her nude, in a state of perfect innocence, and surrounded by flowers, like the biblical Eve in the Garden of Eden. According to legend, when Pandora opened the box cradled in her arms, she released all the evils destined to plague humanity, bringing to an end the idyllic Golden Age. This painting is thought to have been made about 1914, on the eve of World War I, when the themes of harmony destroyed and chaos unleashed may have had heightened resonance.
the artist, Paris (ca. 1914–d. 1916; placed on consignment with Carroll Galleries by 1915); his widow, Camille Redon, Paris (1916–17; remained on consignment with Carroll Galleries); [sold through Carroll Galleries, New York in February 1917, for Fr 4,000 to Quinn]; John Quinn, New York (1917–d. 1924; his estate 1924–26); Alexander Max Bing, New York (by 1928–d. 1959)
New York. Carroll Galleries. "Second Exhibition of Works by Contemporary French Artists," January 25–February 13, 1915, no. 23 (as "Pandora").
Indianapolis. John Herron Art Institute. "Paintings by Odilon Redon . . .," April 6–May 2, 1915, no. 7 (lent by the Carroll Galleries) [see Sterling and Salinger 1967].
New York. Museum of French Art, French Institute. "Odilon Redon," April 3–May 1, 1922, no. 1 (lent by John Quinn).
New York. Art Center. "Memorial Exhibition of Representative Works Selected from the John Quinn Collection," January 7–30, 1926, no. 28.
New York. de Hauke & Co. "Exhibition of Paintings, Pastels, Drawings, Water Colours, Lithographs by Odilon Redon," November 1928, no. 9 (lent by Mr. Alexander Bing).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Tenth Loan Exhibition: Lautrec and Redon," February 1–March 2, 1931, no. 94 (lent by Alexander M. Bing, New York).
New York. World's Fair. "Masterpieces of Art: European & American Paintings, 1500–1900," May–October 1940, no. 350.
Coral Gables, Fla. Joe and Emily Lowe Art Gallery of the University of Miami. "Odilon Redon, 1840–1916," February 24–March 13, 1955, no. 3 [see Wildenstein 1992].
Palm Beach, Fla. Society of the Four Arts. "Odilon Redon, 1840–1916," March 18–April 3, 1955, no. 3 [see Wildenstein 1992].
New York. Paul Rosenberg. "An Exhibition of Paintings and Pastels by Odilon Redon, 1840–1916," February 9–March 7, 1959, no. 18 (lent by Alexander M. Bing).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Odilon Redon, Gustave Moreau, Rodolphe Bresdin," December 4, 1961–February 4, 1962, no. 45.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Odilon Redon, Gustave Moreau, Rodolphe Bresdin," March 2–April 15, 1962, no. 45.
New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Rousseau, Redon, and Fantasy," May 30–September 8, 1968, unnumbered cat.
New York. Acquavella Galleries. "Odilon Redon," October 22–November 21, 1970, no. 43.
London. Hayward Gallery. "French Symbolist Painters: Moreau, Puvis de Chavannes, Redon and their Followers," June 7–July 23, 1972, no. 247.
Liverpool. Walker Art Gallery. "French Symbolist Painters: Moreau, Puvis de Chavannes, Redon and their Followers," August 9–September 17, 1972, no. 247.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Nudes in Landscapes: Four Centuries of a Tradition," May 18–August 5, 1973, no catalogue.
Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. "L'œuvre de Marcel Duchamp," January 31–May 2, 1977, no. 204.
Washington. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. "'The Noble Buyer': John Quinn, Patron of the Avant-Garde," 1978, unnumbered cat.
Bordeaux. Galerie des Beaux-Arts. "Odilon Redon, 1840–1916," May 10–September 1, 1985, no. 241.
Leningrad [St. Petersburg]. State Hermitage Museum. "From Delacroix to Matisse," March 15–May 10, 1988, no. 47.
Moscow. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. "From Delacroix to Matisse," June 10–July 30, 1988, no. 47.
Fort Lauderdale. Museum of Art. "Corot to Cézanne: 19th Century French Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," December 22, 1992–April 11, 1993, no catalogue.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Odilon Redon: Prince of Dreams, 1840–1916," July 2–September 18, 1994, no. 177.
Amsterdam. Van Gogh Museum. "Odilon Redon: Prince of Dreams, 1840–1916," October 20, 1994–January 15, 1995, no. 177.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Odilon Redon: Prince of Dreams, 1840–1916," February 16–May 21, 1995, no. 177.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 95.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Walter Pach. Letter to John Quinn. October 9, 1916 [published in Perlman 2002], notes that he is writing to Madame Redon to ask about quarterly payments for a selection of paintings by her late husband.
Walter Pach. Letter to John Quinn. February 11, 1917 [published in Perlman 2002], states that Madame Redon accepts proposition of quarterly payments and that she reported Redon's prices were rising in Paris.
John Quinn. Letter to Walter Pach. February 16, 1917 [published in Perlman 2002], states that he has chosen six Redons, including "Pandora (panel)" with the artist's price of four thousand dollars; confirms that he will pay quarterly.
Walter Pach. Letter to John Quinn. April 24, 1917 [published in Perlman 2002], restates agreed upon price.
Louise Gebhard Gann. "The Metaphor of Redon." International Studio 78 (November 1923), p. 103, ill.
An Exhibition of Paintings by Odilon Redon, 1849–1916. Exh. cat., Paul Rosenberg & Co. New York, 1959, pp. 11, 31, no. 18, ill., dates it 1908–9.
John Rewald. Odilon Redon, Gustave Moreau, Rodolphe Bresdin. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1961, pp. 44, 88, 174, no. 45, ill., dates it about 1910.
Klaus Berger. Odilon Redon: Fantasy and Colour. New York, 1965, p. 194, no. 172, dates it 1909–10 and questions whether it might have been made for a wall panel.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 10–11, ill., date it about 1910, a period when Redon painted a number of female nudes in the guise of mythological heroines.
Mary Anne Stevens and Alan Bowness inFrench Symbolist Painters: Moreau, Puvis de Chavannes, Redon and their Followers. Ed. Alan Bowness. Exh. cat., Hayward Gallery. London, 1972, p. 120, no. 247, ill., and colorpl. VII, discuss the iconography and remark that Redon has represented Pandora as "an idealised nude surrounded by a vision of the beauty of natural objects".
Michael Wilson. Nature and Imagination: The Work of Odilon Redon. Oxford, 1978, pp. 72, 74, ill. (color), comments that the theme of Pandora was a pretext for Redon to paint colorful compositions based on the female nude.
Albert Boime. Thomas Couture and the Eclectic Vision. New Haven, 1980, p. 493, discusses the influence of Puvis de Chavannes on the technique that Redon used in this work.
Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, p. 88, colorpl. 64, mention that there is nothing in this picture that suggests Pandora's story and note that the "absence of explicit setting is typical of Redon's mythological pictures, in which the figures are a vehicle for the evocation of his dreamworld".
Roger Hurlburt. "Free Spirits." Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale) (December 20, 1992), p. 4D.
Helen Kohen. "Lasting Impressions." Miami Herald (December 20, 1992), p. 6I.
Alec Wildenstein. Odilon Redon: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint et dessiné. Vol. 1, Portraits et figures. Paris, 1992, p. 285, no. 724, ill.
Gloria Groom and MaryAnne Stevens in Douglas Druick. Redon: Prince of Dreams, 1840–1916. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1994, pp. 293–94, 348, 350, 449, no. 177, ill. (color), dates it about 1914; observes that Redon responded to the live model by creating idealized figures such as Pandora rather than realistic ones; suggests that it was perhaps the source for the Chavasse "Pandora" (National Gallery, Washington), noting that in gesture and setting it is a better compliment to the Chavasse "Saint Sebastian" (National Gallery, Washington).
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 470, ill.
Bennard B. Perlman. American Artists, Authors, and Collectors: The Walter Pach Letters, 1906–1958. Albany, 2002, pp. 279, 281, 284, 286 n. 1, p. 298, ill. p. 283.
Susan Alyson Stein inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 133, 250–51, no. 95, ill. (color and black and white).
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 149, 295, no. 138, ill. (color and black and white).
Ioana Jimborean inOdilon Redon. Exh. cat., Fondation Beyeler. Riehen/Basel, 2014, pp. 84, 172, ill. p. 91 (color).
Martin Gammon. Deaccessioning and Its Discontents: A Critical History. Cambridge, Mass., 2018, p. 215.
Loan of this work is restricted.
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