Delacroix - Artist Printmaker

Eugène Delacroix came from a very artistic family; his step grandfather was the famous cabinet-maker Jean-Henri Riesener. A fellow student of Théodore Géricault in Pierre Guérin’s studio in Paris, Delacroix attended the École des Beaux-Arts there, but soon went beyond the Neoclassical precepts to become the leading painter of French Romanticism.

An all-round artist printmaker, he mastered a wide range of techniques. Etching his first plate as young as sixteen years old, a few years later he published two satirical lithographs on the liberal daily Le Miroir, of which a fine impression symbolizing the decay of the Grand Opéra in Paris is offered in this exhibition. Such print proves Delacroix’s early aversion to the Neoclassical aesthetic that dominated the artistic world at the time and was promoted in the visual arts by Delacroix’s long-life rival J.D.A. Ingres.

From early in his life, Delacroix had been fascinated by exoticism; such interest was fostered by a visit to North Africa in 1832 which was a great source of inspiration for his works of the following years. Along with other Oriental subjects included in our display, a rare first state of the Juive d'Alger as well as the very rare etching with the Rencontre de Cavaliers Maures are among the finest examples of Delacroix’s representation of the Arabic world.

Together with the exotic, Delacroix’s other great passion was literature, well represented in this display by illustrations of works by Sir Walter Scott (Redgauntlet), Goethe (Goetz de Berlichingen) and Shakespeare (Macbeth, Henry VI, Hamlet). It is worth mentioning the rare complete series of 13 lithographs illustrating Shakespeare's Hamlet from the first edition published between 1834 and 1843, and two rare first states from the same series.

Antique medals, a man with weapons, a nude female study and the head of a nun are among the other subjects included in our display as well as a scene after Delacroix’s close friend Richard Parkes Bonington. Finally, five prints representing wild beasts and a very fine aquatint of a blacksmith give us the opportunity to relate Delacroix to the other titan of French Romanticism, Théodore Géricault, who illustrated the same themes in several lithographs a few years earlier, some of which are offered in his online exhibition. Similarly to Géricault’s prints, almost all Delacroix’s works come from the well esteemed collection of Henri Petiet (1894-1980), most of them featuring his initials and inventory number.

Delacroix, Ferdinand Victor Eugène
Un Homme d'armes (A Man with Weapons).
Etching.
Size of sheet: 18.1 x 12.4 cm.

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Delacroix, Ferdinand Victor Eugène
Juive d'Alger (Jewish Woman of Algiers).
Etching.
Size of sheet: 27.1 x 21.2 cm.

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Delacroix, Ferdinand Victor Eugène
Un Forgeron (A Blacksmith).
Aquatint.
Size of sheet: 43.8 x 29.8 cm.

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Delacroix, Ferdinand Victor Eugène
Arabes d'Oran (Arabs from Oran).
Etching.
Size of sheet: 34.1 x 52.1 cm.

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Delacroix, Ferdinand Victor Eugène
Étude de femme vue de dos (Study of a Woman Seen From the Back).
Etching on Arches paper.
Size of sheet: 32.5 x 49 cm.

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Delacroix, Ferdinand Victor Eugène
Rencontre de Cavaliers Maures (Encounter of the Moorish Horsemen).
Etching.
Size of sheet: 20.1 x 26.5 cm.

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Delacroix, Ferdinand Victor Eugène
Tigre couché dans le désert (Tiger lying in the desert).
Etching.
Size of sheet: 16.5 x 22.4 cm.

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Delacroix, Ferdinand Victor Eugène
Lionne déchirant la poitrine d'un Arabe (Lioness tearing the chest of an Arab).
Soft-ground etching and roulette on beige chine-collé.
Size of sheet: 22 x 28 cm.

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