Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798-1863)
Property from an Important Texas Collection
Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798-1863)

Arab Stalking a Lion

Details
Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798-1863)
Arab Stalking a Lion
signed 'Eug. Delacroix' (lower right)
oil on canvas
13 x 16 1/8 in. (33 x 41 cm.)
Painted circa 1849-50.
Provenance
Paul Tesse, Paris, by 1864.
M. Francis Petit (d. 1877).
M. Louis Dubuisson (1842-1914), Paris, by 1885.
with Galerie F. & J. Tempelaere, Paris, April 1896.
Baron Denys Marie Pierre Augustin Cochin (1851–1922), Paris.
with Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 26 April 1913.
Poznanski (probably Maurycy Poznanski (1868-1937), Lódz, Poland), acquired directly from the above 15 May 1913.
Dr Hans Graber, Zurich, by 1939.
with Marlborough Fine Art, London, 1959.
Eliot Hodgkin (1905-1987), London, acquired directly from the above, 1959.
Gifted by the above to a trust to benefit the Georgian Group and the Victorian Society, 1987.
Their sale; Christie's, London, 14 June 2006, lot 11.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
T. Sylvestre, Delacroix, Paris, 1855, p. 82.
A. Robaut, L'oeuvre complète de Eugène Delacroix, Paris, 1885, p. 329, no. 1227, illustrated.
E. Moreau-Nélaton, Delacroix raconté par lui-même, Paris, 1916, vol. II, p. 92, no. 294.
J. Meier-Graefe, Eugène Delacroix, Beiträge zu einer Analyse, Munich, 1922, p. 203, illustrated.
L. Rudrauf, 'De la bête à l'ange (les étapes de la lutte vitale dans la pensée et l'art d'Eugène Delacroix'), Acta Historiae Artium Academiae Scientarium Hungaricae, IX, fasc. 3-4, 1963, p. 320, fig. 11, illustrated.
L. Johnson, The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix: A Critical Catalogue, Oxford, 1986, vol. III, p. 14, no. 180; and vol. IV, pl. 12, illustrated.
Exhibited
Paris, Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Oeuvres d'Eugène Delacroix, August 1864, no. 71.
Paris, Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Exposition Eugène Delacroix au profit de la souscription destinée à élever à Paris un monument à sa mémoire, 6 March-15 April 1885, no. 68.
Zürich, Kunsthaus, Eugène Delacroix, 28 January-5 April 1939, no. 356.
London, Marlborough Fine Art, XIX and XX Century European Masters, summer 1959, no. 12, illustrated.
London, Leicester Galleries, Artists as Collectors, July-August 1963, no. 114.
Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy, Delacroix: an Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Lithographs sponsored by the Edinburgh Festival Society and arranged by the Arts Council of Great Britain, 15 August-13 September 1964, also London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1 October-8 November 1964, no. 48, illustrated.
London, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, Géricault to Courbet, 28 May-26 June 1965, no. 17, illustrated.
London, Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, 14 March-10 April 1990, Eliot Hodgkin, 1905-1987, Painter and Collector, no. 103, illustrated.

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Lot Essay

The lion hunt is a theme to which Eugène Delacroix returned time and again throughout his career. He drew inspiration both from the five-month trip he made to Morocco in 1832, and from the hunting scenes of Peter Paul Rubens, which he considered bravura exercises in color and movement. On another level, the subject reflected Delacroix's own Romantic leanings. To him, the Arabs held a mirror to a stoic antiquity, which was underscored in the noble life-and-death struggle that the hunt between man and the king of beasts represented.
That Delacroix's hunting pictures were based on fantasy as much as by his observation of local color is borne out by the fact that he never witnessed an actual hunt (Barbary lions were already rare by the 1830s) and by his sometimes invented subject matter such as, for example, scenes combining both lions and tigers.
In the present work, Delacroix recalls the rocky geography of the Atlas Mountains, visible in most of his animal and hunting scenes. The palette has a Rubensian vibrancy that is quite different from the calmer paintings of daily Moroccan life, which were more factual in their observation of light and color. Despite the apparent simplicity of the composition, it is lent quiet drama by both the Romantic landscape and by the echo between the hunter's and the lion's four-legged stance.
There are two studies for this painting in the Louvre, one pen-and-ink drawing of a nude man crawling to the left, and a preliminary composition study in pencil on tracing paper (fig. 1). Delacroix also executed a version of this work in pastel, now lost, which once belonged to Edgar Degas.

(fig. 1) Eugène Delacroix, Arabe guettant un lion.

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