Fernand Khnopff, Istar

Private collection

Date: 1888
Technique: Chalk on paper; 16.5 x 7 cm

Istar is a novel by Joséphin Péladan first published in 1888 with a frontispiece by Fernand Khnopff, depicting a woman, head thrown back in ecstasy and completely devoid of surrounding except for a phallic tentacled plant that grows toward her pubic area. Jean Delville noted in his comment on Khnopff’s work:

Khnopff has created a type of ideal woman. Are they really women? Are they not rather imaginary feminites? They partake at the same time of the Idol, of the Chimera, of the Sphinx and of the Saint. They are rather plastic androgynes, subtle symbols, conceived according to an abstract idea and rendered visible. (Howe, 48)


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