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Work Letter from Eugène Delacroix to Théophile Gautier

Department of The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Letter from Eugène Delacroix to Théophile Gautier

© RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Franck Raux

The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Author(s):
Marie-Christine Mégevand

After completing the decoration of the Chapel of the Holy Angels in the church of Saint- Sulpice in July, 1861, Delacroix sent invitations to well-known figures and friends, such as writer and journalist Théophile Gautier (1811–1872), who were likely to give their opinions on his work.
“A thousand, thousand thanks for your poetic and kindly article, and the promptness with which you wrote it,” Delacroix wrote to Gautier in this letter dated August 4, 1861, in reply to the complimentary prose published in the Moniteur universel of August 3, 1861.


The Chapel of the Holy Angels in Saint-Sulpice

Delacroix received the commission to decorate the Chapel of the Holy Angels in the church of Saint-Sulpice in April 1849. He decided to depict Archangel Saint Michael Slaying the Devil on the ceiling, and on the walls Heliodorus Driven from the Temple, and the work often considered by historians as his spiritual testament, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. Interrupted by more urgent projects and Delacroix’s poor health, the decoration was not finished until 1861.

Théophile Gautier’s review

Anxious about how his work would be received, the elderly painter sent out invitations to officials, friends, and journalists, one of whom was art critic and novelist Théophile Gautier (1811–1872). On August 3, he published a favorable article in the Moniteur universel newspaper, reflecting his strong, ongoing support for Delacroix’s work since 1832.

From Delacroix to Gautier

And Delacroix replied with all the finesse for which he is known: “A thousand, thousand thanks for your poetic and kindly article and the promptness with which you wrote it. You have spoiled me so often that I end up believing everything your friendship writes about me; I too often forget that your imagination adds to my inventions and that your style is like the varnish.”
The museum has two other letters from Delacroix to Théophile Gautier. The first is dated July 22, 1855 and was written after Gautier’s glowing article about the paintings exhibited at the World’s Fair was published in the Moniteur universel. The second was written in July 1861 and preceded the article on the Chapel of the Holy Angels.

Bibliography

Théophile Gautier, Critique d’Art - Extraits des Salons (1833 - 1872), Séguier, 1994, pp.160-184.
Charles Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier, Correspondances esthétiques sur Delacroix, Olbia, 1998
Stéphane Guégan, Théophile Gautier, Paris, Gallimard, 2011, p.492

Technical description

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

    Letter from Eugène Delacroix to Théophile Gautier

  • H. 0.275 x W. 0.20 m

  • Autograph letter, signed, dated August 4, 1861
    1 p. in-8°

    MD 1990-3

  • The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Practical information

Location:
Musée Eugène-Delacroix
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