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Odilon Redon (1840 – 1916)





Odilon Redon


Birth name Bertrand-Jean Redon

Born April 20, 1840 , Bordeaux, France

Died July 6, 1916, Paris, France

Nationality French

Movement Symbolism



Redon was born at Bordeaux, and spent part of his childhood at Peyrelebade near Listrac (Gironde). He started drawing lessons at Bordeaux with Stanislas Gorin later came under the influence of the engraver Rodolphe Bresdin. As he wanted to be a painter, he went to Paris and became an unattached student in Gerome's studio at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In 1878 he went to Holland for the first time. He began by doing pencil drawings and lithographs; one of his earliest drawings is dated 1862 and the last ones between 1895 and 1898. Bresdin taught him lithography, and Redon's first attempts at lithographs date from 1878. Between 1879 and 1899, Redon brought out thirteen sets of lithographs. In 1881 he held an exhibition of drawings and lithographs at La Vie Moderne and another in 1882 at the Gaulois.  In 1886 he took part in the eighth and the last Impressionist exhibition and, in the same year exhibited at the first Salon des Vingt in Brussels. After Redon's art underwent fundamental change with his paintings Les Yeux clos; from that time onwards  light and colour began to appear in his work, and from 1895 predominated. He practically gave up the black and white work he had been doing and devoted himself almost entirely to pastels and oils. About the same time he produced several religious pictures. In 1899 Durand-Ruel organized an exhibition of young painters' work 'in honour of Redon' where the artist himself was represented by pastels only. After 1900, Redon concentrated increasingly on oils. Redon had been much impressed Moreau's Phaeton and painted several versions of the subject himself. He also painted portraits, landscapes and flower studies as well as working in pastels.  Redon had a strong decorative sense and undertook several schemes of decoration.  In 1906 he exhibited at the Durand-Ruel Gallery also took part in the International Exhibition in New York. He died in Paris on 6 July 1916.

Based on Phaidon encyclopedia of Impressionism, Maurice Serullaz, Phaidon, 1978


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