After the death of a first child, Odilon Redon was overjoyed by the birth of Arï in 1889: "An attentive tenderness surrounded this only child whose presence always brought joy to the home, and who was frequently painted by his father". (Roseline Bacou, The Arï and Suzanne Redon Donation, 1984).
In this portrait from 1897, the child appears in profile on the right. This style of off-centre presentation was popular with the young Nabis, who admired Redon and held him in great esteem. He uses here a technique often seen in his work, creating an indistinct background by means of an intangible, hazy style, giving the work its distinctive atmosphere of purity and tenderness. Bonnard paid great tribute to Redon in an article in La Vie in 1912: "I have the greatest admiration for Odilon Redon. What strikes me most in his work is the uniting of two almost opposite qualities: the very pure, plastic substance and the very mysterious expression". In the same article, Maurice Denis added that Redon "was the ideal of the young, Symbolist generation, our Mallarmé".
It is thanks to Arï Redon and his wife, Suzanne that many of Odilon Redon's works came into the French National collections in the early 1980s.