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Odilon Redon's Violette Heymann

Emily B. Collins, PhD
JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2013;15(2):152-153. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2013.380.
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Odilon Redon (1840-1916) lived the life of an outsider from the beginning. His father had traveled from the Bordeaux region of France to the United States in order to rebuild the family's lost fortune. While in Louisiana he met and married Redon's mother, a native of France as well. Redon's older brother, Ernest, a musical prodigy, was born while the family was in the United States, and by the time they had embarked on the journey home to their native France, Redon's mother was pregnant with him.1(p9) Redon later lamented that he had not been born at sea, a fitting place for a misfit to be born. After his birth, safely on French soil, Redon was sent away from his parents to live in the country. This was apparently done because of his frailness and the belief that time in the country would make him a stronger child. In essence, this cut the young Redon off from his parents and sibling (soon to be siblings) at his most vulnerable time. During his childhood spent on the family's country estate, Redon seems to have not only grown accustomed to this loneliness, but it became a part of him and an inspiration for his work. His first 11 years were spent virtually alone with his imagination, fighting off monsters, or, more commonly, befriending them.

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Odilon Redon (1840-1916). Violette Heymann, 1910. Pastel. 72 × 92 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio. Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection. Accession No. 1976.1926.

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