In January 1900, Redon wrote to Andries Bonger in high spirits: 'I am working as always with great joy on my pastels. And they are pleasing, people want them and they take them from me as soon as they are made' From around this time, Redon began to move away from mystical and symbolist subjects, and increasingly devoted himself to portraits and still lifes such as the present work.
One of the most characteristic features of the flower pieces is the balance between vision and naturalism, the ambiguity between fantasy and reality. Their ephemeral beauty is, to a large degree, due to Redon's use of pastel. In his hands the medium was capable of rendering form in a light and delicate manner with brilliant and luminous colour. His aim in these still lifes was to transform nature into poetry.
In more tangible terms, Redon and his wife took great pleasure in tending their garden in Bivres, where this bouquet of wildflowers is likely to stem from. Whilst his wife often prepared the bouquets in her husband's atelier, Redon's choice and presentation of the vase or pitcher was often as important to his pictorial intentions as her arrangement of the flowers placed within it. Redon depicted vases that were part of important museum collections such as the Louvre, as well as those that he saw in the context of Universal Exhibitions, whilst others belonged to his own collection of ceramics and pottery.
In his interest in decorative arts, Redon has an affinity with Max Palevsky, from whose estate the pastel is being offered. One of the world's first computer designers, Palevsky founded Scientific Data Systems and successfully retired in 1972; subsequently, he amassed one of the world's foremost collections of Arts and Crafts, as well as Modern and contemporary art and Japanese prints.