Odilon Redon (1840 – 1916)

Bertrand-Jean (Odilon) Redon

Bertrand-Jean Redon was born in Bordeaux. He was known as Odilon as the result of a nickname given to him by his mother Odile (Wikipedia, Aug 2011).

Redon started drawing at a young age, but his father persuaded him to switch his study from drawing to architecture.  After failing his entrance exams at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris he returned to Bordeaus to take up sculpture.

It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that Redon gained in popularity.  He had worked in Lithography and charcoals up until 1890 when he started to use pastels and oils.

Cactus Man, 1881
Spirit of the Forest, 1880

Redon’s work is a reflection of his own psyche and internal emotional state.  He was a symbolist painter preferring to paint images that evoke thoughts and feelings.

Images like ‘Cactus Man, 1881’ and Spirit of the Forest, 1880, seem to evoke tortured emotions indeed.

Later works, although still inspired by his dreams, are much brighter and seem less tormented. Click an image to enlarge.

Ophelia, 1900-1905)
Still life with flowers
Composition Flowers






Redon seems to have a very loose style, particularly in ‘Composition flowers’ which is very impressionistic in style.

For a comprehensive collection of Redon’s works visit www.odilon-redon.org

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