Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Chariot of Apollo

Odilon Redon (French, Bordeaux 1840–1916 Paris)
Oil on canvas
26 x 32 in. (66 x 81.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Anonymous Gift, 1927
Accession Number:
Not on view

About 1900 Redon abandoned his trademark black charcoal drawings and began avidly experimenting with color. He also explored new subjects, including the mythological horses of the sun. They are driven by Apollo, god of light and poetry, or by Phaethon, the boy who foolishly tried to steer the horses and fell to his death. Redon made over thirty depictions of the motif in oil, pastel, and pencil. In this version, he omitted any indication of a ground plane, so that the horses and charioteer appear to race across a boundless sky.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): ODILON REDON
Alexander Max Bing, New York (until 1927)
Richmond. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "Paintings by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists," October 20–November 19, 1950, unnum. checklist (as "Apollo").

Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "Portraits, Figures and Landscapes," January 12–February 4, 1951, no. 32.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art. "The Horse in Art: Paintings–17th to 20th Century," July–August 1954, no. 34.

San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "The Horse in Art: Paintings–17th to 20th Century," August–September 1954, no. 34.

Kansas City, Mo. William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art. "The Horse in Art: Paintings–17th to 20th Century," October–November 1954, no. 34.

Phoenix Fine Arts Association. "An Exhibition to Coincide with the World Symposium on Applied Solar Energy," October 17–November 6, 1955, no catalogue [see Sterling and Salinger 1967].

Washington. Corcoran Gallery of Art. "Visionaries and Dreamers," April 7–May 27, 1956, no. 25.

Milwaukee Art Center. "Man's Concept of Outer Space," October 1, 1958–February 15, 1959, no catalogue [see Ref. Sterling and Salinger 1967].

New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Odilon Redon, Gustave Moreau, Rodolphe Bresdin," December 4, 1961–February 4, 1962, no. 46.

Art Institute of Chicago. "Odilon Redon, Gustave Moreau, Rodolphe Bresdin," March 2–April 15, 1962, no. 46.

Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "Five Centuries of European Painting," May 16–October 26, 1963, unnumbered cat. (pp. 40–41).

Nashville. Fisk University. "100 Years of European Painting," April 28–June 10, 1965, unnum. checklist.

New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Rousseau, Redon, and Fantasy," May 30–September 8, 1968, unnumbered cat. (as "Chariot of Apollo").

Rome. Palazzo delle Esposizioni. "Dei de eroi : Classicità e mito fra'800 e '900," March 15–May 30, 1996, no. 69 (as "Il carro di Apollo").

Ferrara. Palazzo dei Diamanti. "Il Simbolismo da Moreau a Gauguin a Klimt," February 18–May 20, 2007, no. 88.

Rome. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna. "Il Simbolismo da Moreau a Gauguin a Klimt," June 7–September 16, 2007, no. 88.

B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "Accessions and Notes." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 22 (March 1927), p. 90, ill., identifies the subject as Apollo, and notes that it is the first Redon to enter the MMA's collection.

Sven Sandström. Le monde imaginaire d'Odilon Redon. Lund, 1955, p. 30, fig. 26, calls it Apollo and dates it about 1900; notes the influence of Delacroix's "Chariot of Apollo" ceiling in the Louvre.

Henri Dorra. Letter to Josephine Allen. December 27, 1955, suggests that the subject is not Apollo, but Phaeton, noting that Phaeton drives the chariot of the sun in Greek mythology.

Mrs. H. D. Allen. Letter to Henri Dorra. January 3, 1956, states that she does not think the figures are falling out of the chariot or have lost control; cites several other Redon paintings of Apollo, and holds to this identification for it.

Klaus Berger. Odilon Redon: Fantasy and Colour. New York, 1965, p. 192, no. 153, calls it "Apollo's Sun Chariot with Four Horses," dates it "1905 (1900)", and lists it as a study for the picture of the same name in the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (W1994, no. 859).

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, p. 11, ill., date it between 1905–16; note that the picture seems to represent Apollo as the sun god Helios rather than Phaeton.

Rousseau, Redon, and Fantasy. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York, 1968, unpaginated, dates it about 1910.

Alec Wildenstein. Odilon Redon: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint et dessiné. Vol. 2, Mythes et légends. Paris, 1994, p. 58, no. 860, ill., as "The Chariot of Apollo"; compares it to other works of the same subject; notes that it is almost identical with W861 (private collection, Japan) and concludes that it is possible that one is a copy or a replica of the other.

Gianna Piantoni. Dei ed Eroi: Classicità e mito fra '800 e '900. Exh. cat., Palazzo delle Esposizioni. Rome, 1996, p. 172, no. 69, ill. (color), dates it about 1907.

Luisa Capodieci in Il Simbolismo da Moreau a Gauguin a Klimt. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti. Ferrara, 2007, pp. 254–55, no. 88, ill. (color).

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