Arts Everyday Living: Dreaming of Butterflies–Royalty of the Garden, A Fleeting Existence

Odilon Redon, Five Butterflies, c. 1912, watercolor on wove paper, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Title: Five Butterflies, c. 1912

Odilon Redon (1840-1916)

Butterflies live for such a short time, on the average, a week or two, although some species endure a number of months. Overall, a fleeting existence, the result of a metamorphosis from the humble caterpillar confined to the ground to the royal  insects of the air, the order Lepidoptera. Sometimes, if we are fortunate, they appear unannounced in their multi-colored regalia offering us the privilege of a personal sighting. Yet, just as quickly they disappear, vanishing forever into the sunshine of a summer day.

Odilon Redon, whose birth we are honoring this week (see: April 21 and April 23, 2024 blogs), created several interpretations of butterflies attracted possibly by both their delicate beauty and elusive nature. Yet, in the watercolor above, we have the rare opportunity of viewing five at once, each one seeming in a different stage of being, most evident in the strength of the colors, gradually diminishing from the top to the bottom of the work of art.  Do you agree? Or have you another idea or opinion?




In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art does not endorse or approve use of the above image or any of the material on this website. Nor has the National Gallery of Art participated in any projects utilizing the said image.



, , , ,