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Circe [The End of the Reign (Le fin d’un règne)]

Jean Delville was a symbolist painter who founded the Belgium Salon d’art idealiste and exhibited at the Rose + Croix salons. His seductive drawing of a reclining female nude has been suggested as a depiction of the Greek goddess Circe—a nymph or witch who transformed her adversaries into animals through magic potions. The drawing reflects a late nineteenth-century fascination with the concept of the femme fatale, as well as with spiritualism, mysticism, and the occult. Rather than focusing on narrative details, Delville envelops his figure in a smoky haze and exotic foliage. Her elongated, sinuous body suggests both an odalisque and a serpent in the grass—a dangerous, yet irresistible presence.

Jean Delville
Belgian, 1867–1953
Circe [The End of the Reign (Le fin d’un règne)]
ca. 1893
Colored pencil, charcoal, and pastel on paper
Image/sheet: 11 3/8 x 23 3/16 in. (28.9 x 58.9 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Evan F. Lilly Memorial, 72.53