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The Cover
April 21, 1999


JAMA. 1999;281(15):1359. doi:10.1001/jama.281.15.1359

Admittedly difficult, often accessible to only the few, the work of Odilon Redon (1840-1916) has placed him in that select coterie of painters called "painters' painters." Even so, he was in his mid 40s before his work began to attract any kind of attention among the Paris critics. Neither Impressionist nor academic, he simply languished in the limbo that lay somewhere between. When he was "discovered," finally, in the mid 1880s, it was the literary symbolists who took him in, not the art-going public. The ultimate recognition, that of his painting peers, did not come until he was 60, and it came not from his own generation but from the next, from the youngsters led by Symbolist painter Maurice Denis (JAMA cover, April 7, 1999), who entered the 20th century claiming the invention of a new and "modern" art. Denis commemorated the passage in 1900 in a group portrait entitled Homage to Cézanne. The work depicts himself and several of his contemporaries, including Vuillard, Bonnard, and the dealer Vollard, grouped around a painting by Cézanne that had once belonged to Gauguin. The most prominent figure in the painting is, however, Odilon Redon, visibly older than the others. Thus linked to his own generation of Gauguin and Cézanne, Redon is simultaneously acknowledged as belonging to the new Symbolist generation, first among equals as well.