One of the leading artists of Symbolism, Odilon Redon (1840-1916) was also a painter of scenic and emotional extremes . Until about 1890, the artist was known exclusively for his black and white works. These black squares were lithographs and charcoal drawings populated by fantastical and terrifying creatures in a lugubrious color palette. Pastel tones, however, gradually found their way into his work, and with them new and less somber themes emerged . Flowers became a recurring motif. Where symbols of melancholy once stood, now horses and butterflies with flapping wings made their way.
While Redon's late lyricism and harmony contrasts sharply with his earlier melancholy, his guiding principles still "put the visible in the service of the invisible." Through dreamlike imagery, sumptuous textures and a suggestive use of colour, Redon sought to create a pictorial equivalent of his own spirit. He was above all an artist who captured moods, both bad omens and joy, and who exerted considerable influence on the post-impressionism that would come later.