A Sorbonne professor and curator of a Delacroix exhibit at the Bibliothèque Nationale gives readers a new, lucid, and well-illustrated study of this painter--a familiar name who is still not widely understood or popular. Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), so very much tied to the history of his time, created vast canvases using that history as allegory. Therefore, he must suffer in appreciation today, when so few museumgoers have the cultural baggage they possessed a century and a half ago. So, huge canvases like The Death of Sardanapalus
and The Murder of the Bishop of Liege
must mean less to contemporary viewers, just as another painting, Tasso in the Hospital of Saint Anna
, was more meaningful to a viewing public who had actually read the work of Torquato Tasso, author of Gerusalemme Liberata
. However, the good reproductions in this book and Barthelmy Jobert's cogent analyses go far to underline Delacroix's inspiration from previous artists like Michelangelo, and his strong grasp of architecture.
Princeton University Press has done a good production job on this title, although they are scandalously scant when it comes to crediting the translators, Terry Grabar and Alexandra Bonfante-Warren (who did a clear job of translating from the original French, but are mentioned only in minuscule print on the copyright page). Even the author must have considered this unchivalrous, for he thanked the translators in his own fine-print acknowledgements at the end of the book. Apart from this detail, Jobert's Delacroix in English is a bravura effort and a very welcome and attractive addition to any bookshelf of 19th-century European art. --Benjamin Ivry
Honorable Mention for the 1998 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in the Arts, Association of American Publishers One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1999
"The reader has the amazing feeling of following Delacroix--almost physically--in the slightest moves he makes and, above all, in the most minute transformations of his artistic choices.... The author displays an impeccable erudition. Moreover ... he offers us a new, frank portrait of Delacroix, the man behind the myth."--Le Monde des livres