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Work Study for “The Battle of Poitiers”

Department of The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Study for “The Battle of Poitiers”

© RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Hervé Lewandowski

The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Author(s):
Hélène Doré

The Battle of Poitiers

This artwork is a preparatory study for The Battle of Poitiers, a painting housed in the Musée du Louvre and commissioned by the Duchess of Berry (1798–1870). The Battle of Poitiers was fought on September 19, 1356 between the armies of Edward, Prince of Wales, and John II of France, also called John the Good (1319–1364). Outnumbered by the enemy, the French troops were defeated and the king was taken prisoner, despite their courageous defense. This is the moment of the Hundred Years War that Delacroix chose to depict: the French king, surrounded, is on the brink of being captured by the Black Prince’s army.

Preparatory study

Delacroix draws here in spirited, undulating strokes with quill and ink to reveal several figures. In the center, a horseman raises his arm, projecting his sword forward as if ordering the charge to attack, while a horse falls to the ground. The movement of the light, sinuous lines introduces an utterly poetic note to the battle scene, toning down the epic quality of the depiction. The artist chose to include the central figure in the definitive painting.

Medieval theme

Delacroix seems to have shown interest in portraying medieval figures on several occasions. As early as his Architectural Trilobe watercolor, painted during his trip to England in 1825, he placed a knight in armor within the motif. Moreover, it is highly probable that the artist drew inspiration here from the details of a 14th-century fresco by Spinello Aretino at the Campo Santo (cemetery) in Pisa, The Combat of St. Ephesus against the Pagans of Sardinia; a number of drawings referring to it are found in Delacroix’s sketchbooks housed at the Musée du Louvre.

Bibliography

Johnson, Lee, The paintings of Eugène Delacroix, A critical Catalogue, 1816 – 1831, Volume I, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1981, pp. 137 - 139 

Technical description

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

    Study for “The Battle of Poitiers”

    c. 1830

  • Iron gall ink on laid watermarked paper

    H: 22.7 cm; W: 33.7 cm

  • Acquired in 1982

    Inscription in black pencil on the front upper edge: “Le Roi Jean à Poitiers” (King John in Poitiers). Inscription in black pencil on the front lower right: “II”.

    MD 2002-18

  • The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Practical information

Adresse :
Musée national Eugène Delacroix
6 rue de Furstenberg
75 006 Paris
Tél. : 00 33 (0)1 44 41 86 50
Fax : 00 33 (0)1 43 54 36 70

Accès :
Métro : Saint-Germain-des-Prés (ligne 4), Mabillon (ligne 10)
Bus : 39, 63, 70, 86, 95, 96
Parcs de stationnement : rue des Saints-Pères (face à la faculté de médecine) carrefour Saint-Germain-des-Prés/ rue de Rennes
Taxis : carrefour Saint-Germain-des-Prés/ rue de Rennes

Horaires :
Le musée est ouvert tous les jours, sauf les mardis, de 9h30 à 17h00 (fermeture des caisses à 16h30).

Jours de fermeture :
Fermé les jours fériers suivants : le 1er janvier, le 1er mai et le 25 décembre.