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A romantic duel. "Le Giaour" by Lord Byron by Delacroix

90 min visit

Eugène Delacroix Museum
16 Dec → 8 Mar 2021
From Wed to Mon 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. Closed Tue. Nocturnal first Thu of the month until 9 pm.

« When the arts go hand in hand... »

You do know Eugène Delacroix, the famous 19th century French Orientalist painter? But did you know that, fascinated by England, he observed his contemporaries across the Channel? His work is indeed impregnated with English literature, in particular the novels and poems of Lord Byron. "The Death of Sardanapalus", currently exhibited in the Louvre Museum, is the most convincing example of this: the drama Sardanapalus was written in 1821 by Lord Byron, translated into French in 1822 and illustrated by the painter in 1827. It was a time when Romanticism reigned over all the arts in Europe. But it was also the time when Greece became independent: in 1821, the Christian Orthodox Greeks revolted against the Ottoman power. Both Eugène Delacroix and Lord Byron were fascinated by the event. So much so that in 1813, Lord Byron wrote the poem "Le Giaour" in support of the Greeks. A Giaour can be translated as "infidel" and for the Turks refers to Christians. Here it is a Venetian in love with a slave from the harem of Hassan. The theme inspired the painter to create three versions: "The Battle of the Giaur and the Pasha" in 1826 (Art Institute of Chicago), another version was painted in 1835 (Petit Palais, Paris) and a last one in 1856. This unique exhibition shows Delacroix's fascination with this story that inspired him for almost 25 years: paintings, sketches and even a lithograph! The master's key paintings dialogue and narrate the fight between Hassan and the Giaour. But this is only a pretext to depict other motifs that are dear to Delacroix, such as the Greek War of Independence or the oriental costumes and accessories that he loves so much. He was not alone in depicting this story of love and revenge: the composer Hector Berlioz, the painter Ary Scheffer and the writer Alexandre Dumas have in turn attempted to illustrate the tale in all its forms. From creation to illustration, this original exhibition evokes a Turkish tale set aside nowadays and yet adored by European Romantic artists. If the exhibition is closed for the moment, you can find online content on the museum's website!


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