Odilon Redon
The Road to Peyrelebade

The Road to Peyrelebade
Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
The Road to Peyrelebade
Undated
Oil on paper on cardboard
H. 46.8; W. 45.4 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Christian Jean

Le chemin à Peyrelebade [The Road to Peyrelebade]


Born into a wealthy family in Bordeaux, Redon was just two days old when he was sent to a wet nurse in Peyrelebade, a village in the Médoc. He spent most of his childhood in this area, separated from his parents. Bordering the Atlantic, this region stretching from the Gironde to the Landes, is famous for high quality of its vineyards. But it is also defined by its geological structure of sand and gravel, by a horizon stretching away into infinity and by landscapes of small villages set between moors and marshes. These wild, monotonous scenes, imbued with melancholy, became, for Redon, an introverted child with a sensitive nature, the original, bewitching point of reference of his painting.

The Road to Peyrelebade is a dark painting, with a dense, low, blue sky. The leaves on the trees shine with a mysterious light. In the centre of the painting, a man can be seen, walking along, bent over. In the distance there looms the shadowy outline of a farm's solid, stone walls. These trees, seen through Redon's mystical temperament, and these austere, oppressive buildings, are recurrent motifs in the artist's wonderful, silent landscapes, which seem to be part of another world.
As an adult, Redon started to produce charcoal drawings and monochrome lithographs, favouring fantastical subjects. It was only towards the end of his life that his paintings took on brighter colours. But all these works have their common source in this feeling of solitude and mystery that dates back to his childhood in Peyrelebade, like a continuous thread running through his work.

Redon Dossier




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