In 1937, the American art critic Walter Pach edited and translated the first English-language version of Eugène Delacroix’s Journal. In his introduction he recorded a story told him decades previously by Odilon Redon. In 1861, the young Redon, yet to make his name, had gone to a ball at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris with his musician brother Ernest. When presented to Delacroix, the two hardly dared speak, so instead followed him round the room “from group to group in order to hear every word he had to say”. Famous men and women fell silent at the approach of the famous painter who, though not handsome, carried himself like “a prince”. When Delacroix left the ball, the two Redons followed him: We walked behind him through the streets. He went slowly and seemed to be meditating, so we kept at a distance in order not to disturb him. There had been rain, and I remember how he picked his steps to avoid the wet places. But when he reached the house on the Right Bank where he had lived for so many years, he seemed to realize that he had taken his way toward it out of habit, and he turned back and walked, still slowly and pensively, through the city and across the river, to the Rue de Furstenberg where he was to die, two years afterwards.
more from Julian Barnes at the TLS here.