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Work Portrait of a European in Oriental Costume

Department of The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Portrait of a European in Oriental Costume, Léon Riesener

© 2012 Musée du Louvre / Harry Bréjat

The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Hélène Doré

Riesener and Delacroix

Léon Riesener studied under painter Jean-Antoine Gros. His cousin Eugène Delacroix, who was ten years his elder, exerted a strong influence on the young man;  they even worked together for a time. Similar to certain Delacroix compositions, this portrait clearly reflects the colorist disposition he had acquired from the master. Delacroix also painted his cousin’s portrait as a token of the strong affection he had for him. Further strengthening their bonds of friendship, Delacroix had found in his father, Henri-François Riesener, an intermediary to help him into the studio of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin (1774–1833), and in his mother, Félicité, the maternal love that was so lacking from his adolescence. It is also a known fact that the two artists regularly loaned their works to one another, thus forging common interests.


The Orientalism of Riesener

While Léon Riesener did not travel to Morocco like his cousin, he was sensitive to the wave of Orientalism that swept through Europe in the 1830s; he nevertheless produced fewer artworks relating to the Orient. This portrait is one of them, and shows the painter’s personal interpretation of it. The bust of a European is set against a landscape background with dominant blues. He is wearing an oriental costume and his head is wrapped in a reddish-orange turban. The balance of color, the energy of line, recall here the influence of his masters, and exemplify a fully Romantic approach.


The collection of Dr. Georges Viau

The artwork is from the former collection of Dr .Georges Viau (1855–1939). Patron and collector, Viau began in 1894 to acquire works by Cézanne, Renoir, Caillebotte, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, and Gauguin.


Léon Riesener 1808 – 1878, du Romantisme à l’Impressionnisme, catalogue d’exposition du Musée d’art et d’histoire de Lisieux, sous la direction de Jean Bergeret, 2010

Technical description

  • Léon RIESENER (1808 – 1878)

    Portrait of a European in Oriental Costume

  • Oil on canvas

    H: 65 cm; W: 54 cm

  • Former collection of Dr. Georges Viau

    MD 2012 - 14

  • The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Practical information

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