Monday, February 8, 2010

Death of Sardanapalus

by Eugene Delacroix (1827)

This painting changed my whole view of "traditional narrative" painting. It changed my life. When I saw it, I just HAD to know what it was about... It wasn't angels and togas and everything I thought I knew about from the Masters... This is a gritty painting. It has drama! When I paint I want others to have that same feeling of "Wait, this isn't what I've seen other painters do, what is it about?" I want the viewers to be drawn in; pulled in.

Some notes I've found about this painting:

Invited to one of the director's evening reception, Delacroix put on his "best coat and best white cravat... I really imagined the man was going to offer me the Croix d'Honneur"; but instead he "came over to me and gave me a proper scolding."

In 1862, Baudelaire writes, "My dreams are often filled with the magnificent forms that move in this vast painting, marvelous as a dream itself. Sardanapalus seen again, is youth recaptured. At what distance back in time does the contemplation of this painting put us! ...Did ever any painted figure give such a vast idea of the Asiatic despot as this Sardanapalus with his braided black beard, who dies on his pyre, draped in his muslins, in a feminine pose? And all this harem of such brilliant beauty, who could paint it today with such fire, such freshness, such poetic enthusiasm? And all this sardanapalesque luxury that shines in the furnishings, in the clothing, in the harness, in the vessels and the jewelry, who? who?

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