Developments in the 19th Century


Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map





(Between Romanticism and Expressionism)


Odilon Redon

(1840- 1916)




Odilon Redon

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born April 20, 1840, Bordeaux, France
died July 6, 1916, Paris

French Symbolist painter, lithographer, and etcher of considerable poetic sensitivity and imagination, whose work developed along two divergent lines. His prints explore haunted, fantastic, often macabre themes and foreshadowed the Surrealist and Dadaist movements. His oils and pastels, chiefly still lifes with flowers, won him the admiration of Henri Matisse and other painters as an important colourist.

Redon studied under Jean-Léon Gérome; mastered engraving from Rodolphe Bresdin, who exerted an importantinfluence; and learned lithography under Henri Fantin-Latour. His aesthetic was one of imagination rather than visual perception. His imagination found an intellectual catalyst in his close friend, the Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé. Redon was also associated with the group of Symbolist painters.

Redon produced nearly 200 prints, beginning in 1879 with the lithographs collectively titled In the Dream. He completed another series (1882) dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe, whose poems had been translated into French with great success by Mallarmé and Charles Baudelaire. Rather than illustrating Poe, Redon's lithographs are poems in visual terms, themselves evoking the poet's world of private torment. There is an evident link to Goya in Redon's imageryof winged demons and menacing shapes, and one of his series was the Homage to Goya (1885).

About the time of the print series The Apocalypse of St. John (1889), Redon began devoting himself to painting and colour drawing—sensitive floral studies, and heads that appear to be dreaming or lost in reverie. He developed a unique palette of powdery and pungent hues. Though there is a relationship between hiswork and that of the Impressionist painters, he opposed both Impressionism and Realism as wholly perceptual.


Odilon Redon



b Bordeaux, 20 April 1840; d Paris, 6 July 1916.

French printmaker, draughtsman and painter. He spent his childhood at Peyrelebade, his father’s estate in the Médoc. Peyrelebade became a basic source of inspiration for all his art, providing him with both subjects from nature and a stimulus for his fantasies, and Redon returned there constantly until its enforced sale in 1897. He received his education in Bordeaux from 1851, rapidly showing talent in many art forms: he studied drawing with Stanislas Gorin (?1824–?1874) from 1855; in 1857 he attempted unsuccessfully to become an architect; and he also became an accomplished violinist. He developed a keen interest in contemporary literature, partly through the influence of Armand Clavaud, a botanist and thinker who became his friend and intellectual mentor.

Peyrelebade Landscape 
Roland at Roncevaux 
Fallen Angel Looking at at Cloud 
Angel in Chains 
The Fall of Icarus
Head of a Martyr
Rijksmuseum Kroller-Moller
Guardian Spirit of the Waters
The Art Institute of Chicago

The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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