Elle tire de sa poitrine une éponge toute noir, la couvre de baisers
(She draws from her bosom a sponge, perfectly black, and covers it with kisses)
Plate 8 of 24
This is the figure of a patrician woman ('patrician' was an honorific title in ancient Rome bestowed on the elite for distinguished service) who has come with other women to mourn at the graves of the Martyrs. They appear to Anthony on the plain depicted in the previous image, but rather than recreate the narrative by showing the group in the landscape scene, Redon separated the imagery and represented only one of the figures. Redon's sensitive representation reflects the calm elegance described by Flaubert: 'there are white figures, vaguer than clouds, bending over the graves. Others approach softly, silently.' There is nothing sinister about these women, instead their sorrowful hearts and intangible lightness is what captivated Saint Anthony and Redon.