Eugène Delacroix

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Eugène Delacroix
Sheet of Sketches with Abduction of a Woman and Four Personifications of the Sciences
Pencil on paper.
8 1/4 x 13 inches (210 x 330 mm)
Gift of Felice Stampfle.

In 1833, shortly after returning from his trip with the comte de Mornay to Spain and North Africa, Delacroix received his first major state commission for a decorative program. His murals for the Palais de Bourbon, which served as the meeting place for the Chamber of Deputies (Assemblee nationale), would occupy him from 1833 until 1847, as he designed and executed paintings for the Salon du Roi (1833-37) and the Deputies Library (1838-47). King Louis-Philippe commissioned the project, and Delacroix aligned the program with conservative expectations for a sober and accessible narrative suitable for the seat of government power open to the public. Somewhat unusually, Delacroix--on the strength of his reputation and his connection with Adolphe Thiers, a high-ranking minister--did not submit designs for ministerial approval as was customary but was given the freedom to develop the scenario without constraint.
This departure from the traditional process led to what Anita Hoptmans characterized as “a mishmash of different plans and unplanned inspirations” which frustrated critics seeking a coherent program but satisfied the artist's admirers, who were pleased with the results and forgave him any inconsistencies.
A lost sheet documents Delacroix's efforts to resolve the remaining subjects in Brunet's new scheme. The page is inscribed with “astronomy/ natural hist[ory] /medicine/ mathematics” indicating subjects the artist was considering under the rubric of Sciences and Arts. As Hoptmans first noted, Delacroix elaborated on these ideas in the Morgan sheet. Here we find at right four rectangular compositions: Astronomy (upper left: a kneeling man holding a compass and globe), Mathematics (upper right: a seated woman pointing to geometric shapes labeled hypotenuse), Medicine (lower left: a standing man aiding a woman collapsed from illness), and Chemistry (lower right: with the attributes of flasks and vials). At left is a sketch loosely connected with the pendentive containing the Death of Pliny the Elder. Hoptmans and Louis-Antoine Prat identified other sheets that show vertical rectangular compositions to go between the pendentives in the cupolas of the Palais Bourbon library (Musée de Picardie, Amiens; Kunsthalle, Bremen, 1965/681). This element was soon cast aside when Delacroix learned the dimensions of the cupolas and realized that the rectangular compositions were unnecessary since the pendentives occupied the available surface space and the spaces between could be filled with bands of mascarons.


Variously inscribed in pencil by the artist, "une figure genée ou assise ou courbée / Hypothénuse / medecine / Chimie - Corne - fiole"; atelier stamp in red ink at lower left corner (Lugt S. 838a).
Watermark: Garden of Holland, Pro Patria (cf. Churchill 127-153). Rampant lion holding sword and wheat sheaves, inside fence, with figure holding staff with hat on tip.

The artist's atelier; Delacroix's atelier sale, Paris, F. Petit and Tedesco, 17-29 February 1864; Walter Schatzki (1899-1933), New York; Felice Stampfle (1912-2000), New York.
Associated names: 

Schatzki, Walter, 1899-1983, former owner.
Stampfle, Felice, donor.


Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Seventeenth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1972-1974. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1976, p. 159.
Louis-Antoine Prat, “Un ensemble de dessins de Delacroix au musée de Picardie à Amiens,” Revue du Louvre, 2-1979, 100-107.
Anita Hoptmans, Delacroix's Decorations in the Palais Bourbon Library: A Classic Example of an Unacademic Approach,” Simiolus 17, no. 4, 1987, 240-269.

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