Delacroix and Nature

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Nature may be a well-known aspect of Eugène Delacroix’s oeuvre, and yet it goes beyond artistic theme to play a much more complex role in the history painter’s work, through observation, study and reinvention.

The Delacroix and Nature exhibition (running at Musée national Eugène-Delacroix until 27 June 2022) invites you into the painter’s last apartment and studio for a discovery of his ties to nature. Within the intimate setting of the museum and its charming garden, visitors can escape to a peaceful haven of nature at the heart of Paris, take part in creative workshops and learn about the history of the garden with a new podcast.

Delacroix loved nature. He plunged into the contemplation of the sea and landscapes, and took many trips to the countryside, staying in his home in Champrosay or with his friend George Sand in the Berry region. Throughout his career, he lovingly described the beauty of nature in his Journal and in his letters. He sketched with sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye at the Jardin des Plantes menagerie. Animals remained an inexhaustible source of interest to him.

Etude de deux tigres, ou Jeune tigre jouant avec sa mère © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Franck Raux

But beyond the curiosity, pleasure and relaxation derived from its observation, nature was above all for Eugène Delacroix a subject of study. The shape of a leaf, the colours of a flower, the texture of fur, the curve of an animal’s spine… Delacroix delighted in the manifold details before his eyes, and eagerly made them the focus of countless studies. Featured in the Delacroix and Nature exhibition, rare landscapes painted by Delacroix, as well as a number of the painter’s sketches and drawings, form a collection of personal herbaria, bestiaries and study sheets that Delacroix would never display to the public during his lifetime. Bringing a fresh perspective to what nature has to offer, the exhibition invites visitors to follow in Delacroix’s footsteps and look at nature with an artist’s eye.

Delacroix and Nature continues at the heart of the painter’s studio with a discovery of Eugène Delacroix’s creative process, and the way in which he reappropriated nature to reinvent it in his paintings. The artist drew upon his observations of fauna and flora to compose and create his finest works. The landscapes thus serve as backdrops for numerous bucolic scenes, while the animals he sketched come to life in his masterpieces. Delacroix did not hesitate to create imaginary animals or expressive deformations of their anatomies as evinced by the Tiger Hunt on loan from the Musée d’Orsay. Similarly, he created a botanical decoration for Orpheus comes to Civilize the Still Savage Greeks and to Teach them the Arts of Peace.

The exhibition concludes with a discovery of Eugène Delacroix’s magnificent garden. Visitors are invited to take a break to listen to our podcast, and delve into the past with Eugène Delacroix’s gardener, Adolphe Cabot, who tells the story of this tranquil green setting. A number of new workshops on nature are also proposed: botanical illustration, botanical printing and watercolour workshops, among others, will take place throughout the exhibition at the heart of this haven of peace in the capital city. The rich and varied cultural programme also includes concerts, guided tours and conferences.

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