Nevermore — a study of Khnopffs ink drawing "La Rêveuse"
Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921)
Pencil and coloured chalks, on grey paper
5 1/4 inches, 13.4 centimetres
Signed FERNAND KHNOPFF, lower centre; inscribed with the title of the study in broken capital letters, NEVERMORE, right centre
Commentary by Christopher Newall and Guy Redmond
The present drawing is closely related to Khnopff's more finished drawing La Reveuse, which he used as an illustration to the article he wrote, entitled "La Dessin a la Plume en Belgique," for The Studio, Special Winter Number, 1900-1. (See, Delevoy, R.L., De Croes, C. and Ollinger-Zinque, G. Fernand Khnopff, 1979, catalogue number 352, listed as untraced.) The various related studies for this subject, (another in the series was exhibited Chicago, New York and Delaware Art Museum, Fernand Khnopff and the Belgian Avant-Garde, exhibition organised by Barry Friedman, 1984, catalogue number 22), were derived from photographs that the artist had taken of his adored sister Marguerite Khnopff in about 1900. (Illustrated Fernand Khnopff, catalogue of the exhibition held in Paris, Brussels and Hamburg, 1979-80, catalogue number 115.)
If the present drawing depends upon the photograph for ah objective reality, Khnopff has selected the elements of the composition and placed them to the left-hand and lower edges of the circular composition, to weird effect. Khnopff knew the importance of dreams as the soul's refuge and inspiration; the subject of the present drawing understood symbolically is the escape of an individual from the physical world into a realm of fantasy into which, at least on this occasion, the artist's pictorial imagination cannot follow.
[Note: I am not certain if this drawing and that entitled Dreaming Woman &mdash Nevermore (available on this site) are actually the same drawing, even though there are a slight differences in title and size. — George P. Landow
Newall, Christopher, and Guy Redmond. Fifth Exhibition: Master Drawings of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. London: Peter Nahum, 1987. No, 41.
Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921). Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2004. no. 100.
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Last modified 14 November 2005