The Met Fifth Avenue
July 17–November 12, 2018
Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863).Renowned as a giant of French Romantic painting, Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863) was equally a dedicated and an innovative draftsman. Opening July 17, Devotion to Drawing: The Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix will explore the central role of drawing in the artist’s practice through more than one hundred works—from finished watercolors to sketchbooks, from copies after old master prints to preparatory drawings for important projects. As the first North American exhibition devoted to Delacroix's drawings in more than 50 years, it will introduce a new generation to the artist's draftsmanship.
Göetz von Berlichingen Being Dressed in Armor by His Page George, 1826–27.
Watercolor and bodycolor with gum arabic. 8 3/8 x 5 5/8 in. (21.3 x 14.3 cm).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, in honor of Thomas P. Campbell, 2014
The exhibition will celebrate a major gift to The Met from Karen B. Cohen, an Honorary Trustee and a longstanding supporter of the Museum, of her extraordinary collection of drawings by Delacroix. Assembled with an eye to the artist's process, Mrs. Cohen’s collection illuminates the ways in which drawing shaped Delacroix's artistic development; his use of the medium in the preparation of prints, paintings, and public decorative programs; and his investment in the expressive potential of his materials.The exhibition is made possible by The Schiff Foundation.
Devotion to Drawing: The Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix will begin with an examination of drawing as a method of training and study for Delacroix throughout his career. This section will present academic and anatomical drawings; studies from life and nature; and copies after a broad range of sources, from old master prints after Raphael and Rubens to contemporary caricatures by artists such as George Cruikshank. Among the highlights will be two of the artist’s sketchbooks: one from an 1829 trip to Normandy and the other of costumes sketched during an 1855 performance of Othello in Paris.
The second section of the exhibition will look at how Delacroix used drawing to invent, research, and refine his ideas for paintings on canvas, decorative and religious murals, prints, and illustrations. It will feature drawings for a number of his major paintings, including The Massacre at Chios (1824), Liberty Leading the People (1830), and The Sultan of Morocco and His Entourage (1845).
A group of drawings related to his first important commission for the French State—the decorations for the Palais Bourbon—will reveal the dynamism of Delacroix’s premières pensées (first thoughts) executed in fluid pen and ink. More precise preparatory works in graphite will demonstrate the care with which Delacroix planned his prints, from his early satirical subjects to his landmark illustrations for Hamlet, published in 1843. The drawings will be paired with their resulting prints, enabling first-hand comparisons of the studies with the finished lithographs.
The third and final section of the exhibition will reveal how Delacroix reveled in the aesthetic possibilities offered by graphic media including ink, wash, and watercolor. The works in this section will also emphasize how drawing was a means of invention for Delacroix. The intense study and preparation demonstrated in the earlier sections of the exhibition will come to fruition here in drawings that show the artist’s imagination at work on paper.
Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863). The Giaour on Horseback, 1824–26. Pen and iron gall ink with wash over graphite. 7 15/16 x 12 in. (20.1 x 30.5 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, in honor of Jane Roberts, 2015 (2015.713.2)Credits and Catalogue
Devotion to Drawing: The Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix is organized by Ashley E. Dunn, Assistant Curator in The Met’s Department of Drawings and Prints.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press
This exhibition will overlap with a major retrospective of Eugène Delacroix’s work—the first comprehensive retrospective in North America devoted to the artist—on view at The Met from September 17, 2018 through January 6, 2019. Titled Delacroix, it will illuminate the artist’s restless imagination through approximately 145 works, the majority of them paintings.
The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musée du Louvre. The catalogue is made possible by the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund and the Janice H. Levin Fund.