Eugène Delacroix

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Eugène Delacroix
Two Figures in Cypriot Costume
Watercolor and opaque watercolor, with oil paint, over pen and black ink, on paper.
5 1/2 x 6 3/16 inches (140 x 157 mm)
Gift of Alexandre P. Rosenberg.

Delacroix frequently depicted Greeks during his research for his paintings Massacre at Chios, 1824, and Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi, 1826. He did not produce a painting devoted to Cypriots, who were Greek citizens of Cyprus, an eastern Mediterranean island considered part of western Asia. The geographic position of Cyprus, like other Mediterranean islands, meant that political control of the island changed frequently. In Delacroix's lifetime, the Ottoman Empire governed the island, which had a Greek majority and a Turkish minority. The Ottomans sought to keep the Cypriot Greeks from participating in the Greek revolution of 1821, which Delacroix famously pictured. As Greek nationalism began to surge, Greek Cypriots adopted elements of Greek dress instead of Turkish, which had been the prevailing style at the time. A white and blue themed outfit comprising a shirt, sleeveless waistcoat, and baggy "vraka" breeches was worn by Cypriot Greeks, along with a red fez (or calpac). The Cypriot fez had a distinctive short tassel on the top. Curiously, the faces in this watercolor are painted in a summary fashion, and the one at left is particularly awkward. In a study in oils of two Greek soldiers dancing now in the Louvre, Delacroix also left the faces blank, suggesting that Delacroix was primarily interested in the costumes and less concerned with depicting a suitable countenance.


Atelier stamp in red ink at lower right corner (Lugt S. 838a).
Watermark: none visible through lining.

The artist's atelier (Lugt S. 838a); atelier sale, Paris, F. Petit and Tedesco, 17-29 February 1864, probably lot 535; Paul Rosenberg, Paris and New York (the donor's father); Alexandre P. Rosenberg, New York.
Associated names: 

Rosenberg, Paul, 1881-1959, former owner.
Rosenberg, Alexandre P., former owner.


Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twentieth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1981-1983. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984, p. 253.

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