Eugène-Victor-Ferdinand Delacroix (Charenton-Saint-Maurice 1798-1863 Paris)
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Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix (Charenton-Saint-Maurice 1798-1863 Paris)

Two Greek soldiers in a clearing in a forest

Details
Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix (Charenton-Saint-Maurice 1798-1863 Paris)
Two Greek soldiers in a clearing in a forest
signed 'Eug. Delacroix'
pencil, watercolour and bodycolour, heightened with white (slightly oxidized in places) and gum arabic
8¼ x 10 3/8 in. (21 x 26.4 cm.)
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Hélène Rihal
Hélène Rihal

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Lot Essay

The composition of the present work is extremely close to that of the watercolour Two Greek soldiers by the sea at Waddesdon Manor (see Theatres of Life: Drawings from the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, exhib. cat., 2007-8, no. 74). The only differences between the watercolours are in the features and hair of the soldier on the right, who is sleeker and smoother in the present drawing, and in the setting, which in the Waddesdon watercolour is a vast open expanse rather than the evocative forest in the present work. Both watercolours can be provisionally dated to circa 1826, owing to their connection with the Portrait of Count Demetrius Palatiano in Greek Costume, which was exhibited at the Salon of 1827.

Although he had not visited Greece in the early 1820s, Delacroix found a rich vein of inspiration in the Greek War of Independence, a cause which had captured the popular imagination in both France and England. Shock at the brutal treatment of Greek patriots and civilians, as in the 1822 massacre at Chios which inspired Delacroix's great painting (1824; Musée du Louvre), blended with the fascinating exoticism of Greek culture, encouraged by the support of such flamboyant figures as Lord Byron, who died in the service of the Greek cause in 1824. In the present drawing and the Waddesdon watercolour, Delacroix chooses to emphasise the romantic nobility of the Greek patriots above the horror of the war, focusing on two soldiers dressed in elaborate Souliote costumes who stare off towards the distant horizon.
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