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Death Of Sardanapalus

Painting, 1827, 392×496 cm

Description of the artwork «Death Of Sardanapalus»

This scene is Delacroix was inspired by Lord Byron, and added in a whisper, a biography, Marquis de Sade, whose books were widely published in France in the early nineteenth century. However, it is illegal.

With Byron as one's legit, one of the artist's friends worked on illustrations for the French edition of Byron and gave Delacroix a play about the Assyrian king Sardanapalus. The story of the king, who commanded to burn all his wealth before the arrival of the enemy, so impressed the young eugène that he had done a truly scientific work to find the details. At the Louvre he copied the profiles from the coins of the Ancient East, studied in the library of the engravings in the books of the great travelers and Mongolian miniatures, I read the works of ancient Greek historians. Some utensils and colorful silk peeped in the antique and resemble India, some architectural elements came from what he saw in England of paintings about the death of ancient cities.

But from the Marquis de Sade smuggled onto the canvas slipped intoxicating mixture of sensuality and death, heightened senses and the most beautiful painting of the XIX century the women's backs. Biographers say that Delacroix did not like to remember about this pattern in adulthood. As if he revealed their most secret passions and fantasies, then to forever hide them from prying eyes.

In the canonical history of Sardanapalus, nor Byron, nor the ancient historians, nothing was said about the murder of wives, servants and horses. King-sybarite (he invented sleep in a feather bed) just asked me to destroy everything that gave him pleasure in life. This Delacroix in his imagination painted the young beauties, the carnage and the calm of a tyrant, contentedly accepting the death of loved ones and his own death. The first sketches the role of Sardanapalus Delacroix portrayed himself. And they anticipated the impressionistic style of painting. In working notes by the way there is a record: "It is desirable that the brush strokes lay separately, they will merge at a distance, saying the color of great purity and intensity".

Picturesque emotion and freshness, "Sardanapalus" even to Delacroix will surpass soon. In order to understand what fireworks should look like this picture of the 29-year-old artist, you can look at the hit of the season in the Salon of that year – "Apotheosis Of Homer" By Ingres. Absolutely glossy and static image, which kind of falls apart and does not allow the eye to catch hold of something important.

Delacroix's "Sardanapalus" made a revolution: a picture is incredibly dynamic (at least compare with the "Homer"), and the composition built on the swirling spiral. The combination of bright, saturated colors, of which Delacroix had already learned not to be afraid of, creates so passionate and fearful picture that the Department of fine arts and critics have sounded the alarm. In Newspapers it was possible to see, for example, such a review: "Mr. Delacroix ordered two vans to take out ruined furniture from the Palace of the Lord of Sardanapalus, two funeral hearse for the dead, and two omnibus for those who survived".

Delacroix after this painting fell into disfavor and was deprived of state orders. Fortunately, the government in France in the nineteenth century changed more often than artistic principles. The disgrace lasted only three years before the July revolution.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Nude, Literary scene

Style of art: Romanticism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1827

Size: 392×496 cm

Artwork in selections: 32 selections

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