Musée National Eugène Delacroix

Pistol bag

© RMN / F. Raux / R-G. Ojéda

MD 2002-214
first part of XIXe siècle (?)
Cuir brodé

This pear-shaped case, fitted with a leather strap and a loop, holds two pistols. Elaborately decorated, it has two slots, separated by a seam in the middle. Many other items in the museum’s large collection of Moroccan objects are also made of leather: bags (choukara in Arabic), a cartridge pouch, a pair of boots, a powder flask and a powder horn. All of them come from the collection of Charles Cournault (1815-1914), an Orientalist painter to whom Delacroix bequeathed several of his mementos from Morocco.

 

The outside pocket of the pistol bag is decorated with a slightly worn embroidered design of red, straw yellow, green, blue and ecru thread. The motif consists of an arabesque whose branches end in rosettes with alternating red and yellow petals. Blue and green palmettes decorate the corner pieces, and an ecru, blue and green flower motif runs on either side of the seam, within an embroidered cartouche.

Delacroix’s trip to Morocco

In 1832, Eugène Delacroix traveled to Morocco in the company of Comte Charles de Mornay, Louis-Philippe’s special ambassador to the Sultan Muley Abd-err-Rahmann. This trip, which lasted about six months, from January to July, has a decisive influence on the painter: the North African land revealed the nobility of an entire people, "living Antiquity," as well as the magnificent light. He returned with many studies, along with various mementos, such as musical instruments, ceramics, textiles, sabers and leather items, including this pistol bag. He used these accessories as elements for still lifes, and they appear in many of his Moroccan-inspired works, such as Bodyguard in Meknès (Wuppertal, Von der Heydt Museum), Moroccan Chief Calling His Camrades (Norfolk, The Chrysler Museum of Art), Two Seated Arabs (Bordeaux, Musée des Beaux-Arts). Like a signature, they are often located in one of the bottom corners of the canvas.

Charles Cournault and Delacroix

The museum has several of these objects that were donated by Etienne Cournault, grandson of Charles Cournault (1815-1904). In 1839, he spent a short time in Delacroix’s studio before taking two trips to Algeria, in 1840 and 1843. From 1847 to 1851, he resumed and deepened his friendship with Delacroix, as they both shared the same fascination for North Africa. This friendship lapsed somewhat when Cournault finally moved to Lorraine after getting married. Yet Delacroix did not forget him, and when he wrote his will, he bequeathed his collection of Moroccan object to Charles Cournault.

Documentation

Lee Johnson, "La collection Charles Cournault", in Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de l’Art français, 1978, p. 249 - 262

Collectif, Couleurs Maroc. Delacroix et les arts décoratifs marocains des XVIIIème et XIXème siècles, catalogue exposition Bordeaux, musée des Arts décoratifs, 2002, n°103.

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