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Work Tiger Resting in the Desert

Department of The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Tiger Resting in the Desert, Eugène Delacroix

© RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Author(s):
Hélène Doré

Delacroix, master of animal painting

While the subject of this artwork may seem banal—a tiger resting in the desert—it belongs to a long suite of animal portraits produced by the artist, a genre in which he excelled and that earned him strong popularity. According to his contemporaries, the artist himself resembled a wild cat: “He knew how to soften his ferocious mask with a smile full of urbanity. He was mellow, soft as velvet, seductive as one of those tigers whose extraordinary supple grace he excelled in rendering,” wrote Théophile Gautier (1811–1872) to describe him. Similar to Tiger Resting at the Entrance to its Lair, this etching was likely made between 1828 and 1830, when Delacroix was producing animal studies with Antoine-Louis Barye (1796–1875), at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.

An accurate and detailed portrayal of a tiger resting

Studying the anatomy of big cats in detail, observing their dissections, the two men enjoyed discussing and comparing their work. There is no doubt that pooling their knowledge and spending time together helped to strengthen Delacroix’s technique and resulted in several admirable artworks, such as this tiger resting in the desert. Set against a landscape that spans the horizon, a resting tiger is stretched out in the sand, its head laid on one of its front paws. The animal glances sideways. The terrain behind it undulates. The fine detail of its coat is strikingly rendered.


Engraving technique

Delacroix engraved here the essential components of the tiger in a single step, using various instruments of attack at once: touch-ups were required only for details, spread over the entire composition; these reworkings were done on the states indiscriminately, using drypoint or roulette. A different approach was used for Tiger Resting at the Entrance to its Lair, however. Delacroix first drew his composition using pure etching (first state), before making various additions in drypoint (second and third states), erased and reworked (fourth state), with the final background finding its place in the fifth state.

Bibliography

DELACROIX, Le trait romantique, Catalogue d’exposition sous la direction de Barthélémy Jobert, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, 7 avril – 13 juillet 1998, pp. 134 – 143

Technical description

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

    Tiger Resting in the Desert

    1846

  • Etching, roulette, and drypoint

    H: 8.9 cm; W: 13.4 cm

  • Acquired 1988

    MD 1988-3

  • The Musée National Eugène-Delacroix

Practical information

Location:
Musée Eugène-Delacroix
6, rue de Furstenberg
75006 Paris
Tel.: +33 (0)1 44 41 86 50

Getting there - Metro:
Alight at Saint-Germain-des-Prés station (line 4) or Mabillon station (line 10).

Opening hours:
Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Tuesdays
Closed on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, December 25