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Work Autograph note by Delacroix, draft of the text to appear on the front of the invitation for the inauguration of the Chapel of the Holy Angels from July 31 to August 3

Department of The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Autograph note by Delacroix, draft of the text to appear on the front of the invitation for the inauguration of the Chapel of the Holy Angels from July 31 to August 3

© RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Mathieu Rabeau

Autograph note by Delacroix, draft of the text describing the subjects of “Heliodorus Driven from the Temple” and “Jacob Wrestling with the Angel,” to appear on the front of the invitation for the inauguration of the Chapel of the Holy Angels from July 31 to August 3.

A polished invitation

Having completed the decoration of the Chapel of the Holy Angels in Saint-Sulpice, Delacroix sent very painstakingly prepared inauguration invitations to prominent figures and his friends who were likely to come see his compositions. Guests included Théophile Gautier, his peers from the Institut, and the prefect, among others. Descriptions of Heliodorus Driven from the Temple and Jacob Wrestling with the Angel were inserted on the front of the invitation. This draft reveals the notes Delacroix took to write them. The reworked and crossed out sections show the care he took to polish his texts.

 

A final decoration

The Chapel of the Holy Angels was Eugène Delacroix’s final decorative project. Although terribly ill, the painter had an unhoped-for resurgence of good health in 1860–1861 that allowed him to complete it. The project was commissioned to him in 1849 by the State, but postponed due to more urgent work, technical difficulties, and recurring health problems. Saint-Michael Slaying the Dragon on the ceiling completed the mural paintings of Heliodorus Driven from the Temple and Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, a true spiritual testament of the artist. While the master was anxious about how his work would be received, Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), who was filled with boundless admiration for him, praised his genius one last time in a critique published in the Revue fantaisiste: “Never has he displayed a palette more splendidly or more scientifically supernatural; never a draftsmanship more deliberately epic. […] Line and color both of them have the power to set one thinking and dreaming; the pleasures which spring from them are of different natures, but of a perfect equality and absolutely independent of the subject of the picture.”

 

The Norbert Ducrot-Granderye donation

This draft is from the very generous donation by Mr. Norbert Ducrot-Granderye to the Musée Eugène Delacroix in 2013. It is part of a set that also included the invitation printed for the inauguration of the Chapel of the Holy Angels, fourteen letters from Delacroix to Baron Charles Rivet (1800–1872), and a beautiful letter to Joséphine de Forget in 1853, describing the civil marriage ceremony of Napoleon III and Eugénie de Montijo. There was also an extensive collection of archives on the painter’s estate, the organization of his funeral service, as well as the construction of his tomb in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Bibliography

Sérullaz, Arlette; Doutriaux, Annick, Delacroix, “Une fête pour l’œil,” Paris, Editions Découvertes Gallimard, 1998, pp. 110 - 122
“Les peintures murales de Delacroix,” in Revue fantaisiste, 1861, T III, 15 août au 1er novembre 1861, pp. 183 - 186
Dominique de Font-Réaulx, “Musée Delacroix. Nouvel accrochage, Portrait d’un peintre écrivain,”  in Grande Galerie-Le Journal du Louvre, juin-juillet 2013, n°24, p. 84 - 89

Technical description

  • Eugène DELACROIX (Charenton-Saint-Maurice, 1798 - Paris, 1863)

    Autograph note by Delacroix, draft of the text to appear on the front of the invitation for the inauguration of the Chapel of the Holy Angels from July 31 to August 3

  • Gift of Mr. Norbert Ducrot-Granderye, 2013

    MD 2013-1-85

  • The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

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