Watercolor with graphite
Gift of Mme Jean Adhémar, 1980
H. 0,310 m ; L. 0,209 m
Bottom right : seal of Delacroix’s pothumous sale
This sheet of paper, which presents a poppy, a pansy, and an anemone, illustrates Delacroix’s naturalist curiosity for all the elements of nature. The artist was able to give free rein to his imagination through these studies. He used watercolor for this work, which renders the fragility and subtle harmonies of these flowers to perfection.
The composition of the light and subtle drawing brings to mind the plates illustrating early nineteenth-century botanical books.
Delacroix made his first flower studies around 1845 during his restful stays with George Sand in Nohant. The novelist related that one day she had surprised the painter in a "state of delighted rapture before a yellow lily whose structure he had just understood." Delacroix attempted to create flower paintings like "pieces of nature" for the 1849 Salon, but this esthetic ambition led him to patiently observe flowers, sometimes even rather acrobatically. Hence, having decided to paint a bouquet of wildflowers, the artist went straight through a hedge, "much to the detriment of [his] fingers and [his] clothes, scratched by thorns" (Journal, 24 June 1849).
This drawing prefigures the flower studies made by Odilon Redon, who greatly admired Delacroix, when he was still a young artist in the 1860s and was striving to "study intently the blade of grass and the stone," as he confided in his journal (A soi-même, Paris, 1961).
Ivan Bergerol, Arlette Sérullaz, Eugène Delacroix, aquarelles et lavis au pinceau, Paris, 1998, p; 102 repr.
Arlette Sérullaz, in Delacroix, les dernières années, catalogue exposition, Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 1998, n° 24, p. 123.
Collectif, George Sand, une nature d’artiste, catalogue exposition, Paris, musée de la Vie romantique, 1998, n° 76, repr.p. 91.