Pandora, ca. 1914. Odilon Redon. Oil on canvas. Bequest of Alexander M. Bing, 1959.
Between 1908 and 1914, Redon repeatedly depicted beautiful women from classical mythology, including Pandora, who was fashioned by the god Vulcan and sent to earth by Jupiter. Here, she appears nude, in a state of perfect innocence, and surrounded by flowers, like Eve in the Garden of Eden. According to legend, when Pandora opened the box cradled in her arms, she unleashed all the evils destined to plague humanity, bringing to an end the idyllic Golden Age. Such imagery may have had particular resonance for Redon and his compatriots as World War I approached.