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Une longue chrysalide couleur de sang
(A long chrysalis, the colour of blood)

Plate 2 of 6

Saint Anthony is led up a staircase in 'complete darkness' until he enters a room and sees the chrysalis, 'with a human head surrounded by rays.' Redon disregarded the detailed description in the text and focused on the head and the light emanating from it. The chrysalis is Knouphus, one of the manifestations of the supreme deity and creator in the mystical doctrine of Gnosticism. The term Gnostic is taken from the Greek, meaning knowledge, and refers to an early mystical belief system that combined Christianity with Greek and Oriental beliefs. The light symbolises mystical spiritual contemplation, which increasingly fascinated Redon. The head resting on the plinth, which Mallarmé aptly described as having been 'put to sleep on the block' is reminiscent of Redon's early depictions of the head of John the Baptist on a plate.


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