The child. Odilon Redon. 1894. Private collection.
Born April 22, 1840, Odilon Redon was the second son of a successful French businessman who lived in the United States. His mother, also of French descent, was from New Orleans. Because he was a sickly child (possibly with epilepsy), his parents sent him to live with a caretaker on the family estate in Peyrelebade. His childhood was spent apart from his parents and, as a result, in his later life he struggled with issues of parental abandonment.
From an early age, Redon showed a facility for drawing and began formal training in 1855. His father directed him away from the pursuit of art and into the study of architecture. However, when Redon failed his examinations, any chance of a career in architecture ended. He then returned to his art, studying sculpture, etching and lithography.