Et que des yeux sans tête flottaient comme des mollusques
(And the eyes without heads were floating like molluscs)
Plate 13 of 24
Inspiration is drawn from a passage in Flaubert's novel that describes the 'beginnings' of life, fragmented in a 'formless world.' Here Redon used science as his source. Redon was among many artists who visited the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, which held human embryos, foetuses, and defective newborns. The writings of embryologist Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and evolutionary theorist Ernst Haeckel greatly influenced Redon. They developed a theory of recapitulation, essentially believing that embryos went through a fish or animal stage. Here Redon's monsters appear with the assured clarity of plausible beings.