The only surviving compositional sketch for an altarpiece of La Vierge du Sacr Coeur, commissioned from Gricault by the Comte Auguste de Forbin, in a letter dated 31 December 1819 for the sum of 6000 francs. A document, dated 12 January 1820, that lists the expenses to be set against a budget of 60,000 francs to buy pictures on behalf of the King. It shows that the altarpiece was originally destined for the Cathedral of Nantes. It further states that the price of picture had been only half of the original sum. It was probably for that reason, or because Gricault was on his way to England, that he decided not to paint the altarpiece but instead asked the young Delacroix to paint it for him. Delacroix took great pain to complete the commission; Gricault had left the country without leaving him with the measurements of the intended canvas. On his return from England, Gricault waited for five months and then wrote to the Minister of Interior that Delacroix's picture, which he never admitted not having it painted, was ready for collection. It finally went to Ajaccio instead of Nantes, where it was rediscovered in 1930. Most of the critics, Robaut included, were never aware of Delacroix's part in that commission. Gricault had tricked the government and impuniately wrote from London about it 'J'envoie au diable tous les Sacr Coeur de Jsus' (I send to hell all the Sacred Hearts of Jesus), C. Clement, Gricault, Paris, 1879, p. 193f.
Madame Serullaz will illustrate the present drawing in her forthcoming essay on Delacroix.