"Black is the most essential of all colors." wrote Redon in To Oneself, a revealing work, as the pictorial and graphic production of this visionary poet, who was fascinated by science, a music lover and passionate about literature.
This Christ is part of the works that Redon called “The Blacks”. These were his charcoals, etchings and lithographs, produced after the 1870 war, once he’d asserted his individual style. The figure of Christ is relatively rare in his first Blacks, created throughout the 1870s and 1880s, a time period which saw the emergence of an idealist line of thought.
Later, Redon would frequently borrow from religious imagery - the figure of Buddha joining the one of Christ - so conducive to suggesting mystery, evocating a spiritual atmosphere and expressing metaphysical questions.
This charcoal drawn, as was the artist's habit, on colored paper, in this case yellow, has turned a lovely shade of gold thanks to fixatives and the passing of time. The velvety material, pencil-etched in parts, the depth of the various shades of blacks, the modeling determined by the use of chiaroscuro – obtained by crisp contrasts between dark and light tones – stump and gum, all show an amazing technical mastery (from Brita Velghe, in 'Musée d'Art Moderne. Œuvres choisies', Brussels, RMFAB, 2001, p. 58-59)
English Translation by Marianne Reynolds (2010)