Odilon Redon. . . . And He Discerns an Arid, Knoll-Covered Plain (. . . Et il distingue une plaine aride et mamelonneuse) from The Temptation of Saint Anthony (La Tentation de Saint-Antoine). 1896

Odilon Redon . . . And He Discerns an Arid, Knoll-Covered Plain (. . . Et il distingue une plaine aride et mamelonneuse) from The Temptation of Saint Anthony (La Tentation de Saint-Antoine) 1896

  • Not on view

Odilon Redon, an individualist who believed in the superiority of the imagination over observation of nature, rejected the Realism and Impressionism of his contemporaries in favor of a more personal artistic vision. After a discouraging experience studying academic painting in Paris, he returned to his hometown of Bordeaux, where he began making etchings in 1864. Later, returning to Paris, he was encouraged by a fellow artist to try lithography and was introduced to Lemercier, a renowned Parisian workshop. He soon discovered that the unique qualities of this technique enabled him to achieve infinite gradations of tone, fine-line drawing, and rich depictions of light and dark. Also, through the possibility of editioning, he found a vehicle for broadly distributing the intimate imagery of his drawings.

During his lifetime, Redon made close to thirty etchings and two hundred lithographs, working almost exclusively in black and white. His reputation flourished, due, in part, to the availability of his prints. He became a celebrated figure in fin-de-siècle Paris, greatly admired by artists and writers of the Symbolist movement with whom he shared an enthusiasm for the fantastic, mystical, and sublime forces found beneath the surface of everyday life. Using nature as his starting point, Redon imagined new worlds through his enigmatic creations, such as The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Infinity.

The majority of Redon's lithographs are found in albums based on thematic or literary subjects. He was greatly inspired by such authors as Edgar Allan Poe and Gustave Flaubert, whose unusual sensibilities were well suited to the artist's own. Redon was so moved by Flaubert's 1874 prose poem The Temptation of Saint Anthony that he created three separate projects based on it.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Harper Montgomery and Sarah Suzuki, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 48.
One from a portfolio of 23 lithographs on chine appliqué
composition: 9 11/16 x 7 13/16" (24.6 x 19.8 cm); sheet: 20 15/16 x 15 11/16" (53.2 x 39.8 cm)
Vollard, Paris
Blanchard, Paris
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Object number
The Temptation of Saint Anthony (La Tentation de Saint-Antoine) (third series)
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].