Title: Frédéric Chopin.
Author : DELACROIX Eugène (1798 - 1863)
Creation date : 1838
Dimensions: Height 45.5 - Width 38
Technique and other indications: Belonged to a painting representing George Sand and Chopin Oil on rock
Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website
Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzisite web
Picture reference: 96DE23098 / RE 1717
© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi
Publication date: March 2016
In 1834, in his studio at 15, quai Voltaire in Paris, Delacroix painted George Sand, just after his break with Alfred de Musset, a portrait in a man's costume for the Review of the Two Worlds to which she collaborates. It conditions the subsequent development of his painting and his aesthetic conception.
Witness to the intimacy of Sand and Chopin, Delacroix decided in the spring of 1838 to bring their portraits together in one painting. The preparatory drawings indicate a composition in width of the double portrait, with a piano on the right. Delacroix was not only seeking to reproduce their features or their person, but to represent a creative action in which the piano, that is to say the music of Chopin, plays the leading role.
On the right, the musician seated in profile, improvising on his Pleyel, his face lit up and tormented by inspiration. George Sand, his arms crossed over his chest as usual, stands behind him. It is reminiscent of Chopin's concerts in his house on Chaussée d’Antin, where Delacroix is invited. Begun with the exalted fervor of his admiration for his dear little Chopin, the same one put in 1832 with the execution of the portrait of Paganini playing the violin, the portrait was to be made in one single stroke, the tone of the painting and the sound of music playing as a duet.
But Chopin falls ill then accompanies George Sand to Mallorca. Before leaving Paris himself, Delacroix suspends the execution of the painting and asks his friend Pierret to have the piano that Chopin had taken to his studio removed. The unfinished canvas will be cut in half. The fragment with the portrait of George Sand is in the Ordrupgaard Museum near Copenhagen.
Chopin looks in the distance, as if lost in his game. He is sketched out in a quick smear, with brown, monochrome tones, almost in the manner of Carrière. The accentuated features of the lively and expressive face, the fiery and tense eyes and lips, reflect her restless soul. The favorite on the right side, exposed to the painter's gaze, recalls the romantic Parisian dandies.
The unfinished portrait is not an abandonment of Delacroix's original idea. His friends, already associated with his personal ideals, will be more so, with his later works. They will inspire him again for the Ceiling of Homer with which he will adorn the dome of the library of the Luxembourg Palace.
Thanks to his relationship with Chopin, Delacroix integrates - as he always wished - the means of music in pictorial language. The symphony and the painting, the tone and the sound, become complementary. Together, they achieve this synthesis of the arts which characterized the Romantic period. Dante’s boat was painted with song.
This friendship painting also represents the end of this period. From now on, Delacroix devotes himself to the expression of form through the language of color alone, while Chopin is moving towards a new style. Impregnated with Delacroix's theory of reflections and light, the composer writes: “Nothing but reflections, shadows, reliefs that do not want to be fixed. I'm looking for the color, I can't even find the drawing… ”. “They are one inside the other,” Delacroix replies.
- Chopin (Frédéric)
- Sand (George)
Paul BENICHOU, The time of the prophets. Doctrines of the Romantic Age. Paris, Gallimard. 1977.Jean-Jacques EIDELINGER, Chopin's musical universe, Paris, Fayard, 2000 Barthélemy JOBERT, Delacroix, Paris, Gallimard, 1997.Pierre LASSERRE, French romanticism, an essay on the revolutions of feelings and ideas in the 19th century, Paris, Champion, 2000. Marie-Paule ROMBEAU, Chopin in the life and work of Georges Sand, Paris, Belles Lettres, 1985.
To cite this article
Malika DORBANI-BOUABDELLAH, "Chopin, romantic musician"