Sir Henry Raeburn was a British portrait painter and Scotland's first significant portrait painter since the Union to remain based in Scotland. He served as Portrait Painter to King George IV in Scotland. Raeburn was born the son of a manufacturer in Stockbridge, on the Water of Leith: a former village now within the city of Edinburgh, he had an older brother, born in 1744, called William Raeburn. His ancestors were believed to have been soldiers, may have taken the name "Raeburn" from a hill farm in Annandale, held by Sir Walter Scott's family. Orphaned, he was supported by William and placed in Heriot's Hospital, where he received an education. At the age of fifteen he was apprenticed to the goldsmith James Gilliland of Edinburgh, various pieces of jewellery, mourning rings and the like, adorned with minute drawings on ivory by his hand, still exist. Soon he took to the production of finished portrait miniatures. Gilliland watched the progress of his pupil with interest, introduced him to David Martin, the favourite assistant of Allan Ramsay the Latter, was now the leading portrait painter in Edinburgh.
Raeburn was aided by the loan of portraits to copy. Soon he had gained sufficient skill to make him decide to devote himself to painting. George Chalmers is his earliest known portrait. In his early twenties, Raeburn was asked to paint the portrait of a young lady he had noticed when he was sketching from nature in the fields. Ann was the daughter of Peter Edgar of Bridgelands, widow of Count James Leslie of Deanhaugh. Fascinated by the handsome and intellectual young artist, she became his wife within a month, bringing him an ample fortune; the acquisition of wealth did not affect his enthusiasm or his industry, but spurred him on to acquire a thorough knowledge of his craft. It was usual for artists to visit Italy, Raeburn set off with his wife. In London he was kindly received by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the president of the Royal Academy, who advised him on what to study in Rome recommending the works of Michelangelo, gave Raeburn letters of introduction for Italy. In Rome he met his fellow Scot Gavin Hamilton, Pompeo Girolamo Batoni and Byers, an antique dealer whose advice proved useful the recommendation that "he should never copy an object from memory, from the principal figure to the minutest accessory, have it placed before him."
After two years of study in Italy he returned to Edinburgh in 1787, began a successful career as a portrait painter. In that year he executed a seated portrait of the second Lord President Dundas. Examples of his earlier portraiture include a bust of Mrs Johnstone of Baldovie and a three-quarter-length of Dr James Hutton: works which, if somewhat timid and tentative in handling and not as confident as his work have delicacy and character; the portraits of John Clerk, Lord Eldin, of Principal Hill of St Andrews belong to a period. Raeburn was fortunate in the time. Sir Walter Scott, Hugh Blair, Henry Mackenzie, Lord Woodhouselee, William Robertson, John Home, Robert Fergusson, Dugald Stewart were resident in Edinburgh, were all painted by Raeburn. Mature works include his own portrait and that of the Rev. Sir Henry Moncrieff Wellwood, a bust of Dr Wardrop of Torbane Hill, two full-lengths of Adam Rolland of Gask, the remarkable paintings of Lord Newton and Dr Alexander Adam in the National Gallery of Scotland, that of William Macdonald of St Martin's.
Apart from himself, Raeburn painted only two artists, one of whom was Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey, the most important and famous British sculptor of the first half of the 19th century. It has been revealed that Raeburn and Chantrey were close friends and that Raeburn took exceptional care over the execution of his portrait of the sculptor, one of the painter's mature bust-length masterpieces, it was believed that Raeburn was less successful in painting female portraits, but the exquisite full-length of his wife, the smaller likeness of Mrs R. Scott Moncrieff in the National Gallery of Scotland, that of Mrs Robert Bell, others, argue against this. Raeburn spent his life in Edinburgh visiting London, only for brief periods, thus preserving his individuality. Although he may have lost advantages resulting from closer association with the leaders of English art, from contact with a wider public, Scottish art gained much from his disinclination to leave his native land, he became the acknowledged chief of the school, growing up in Scotland during the early 19th century, his example and influence at a critical period were of major importance.
So varied were his other interests that sitters used to say of him, "You would never take him for a painter till he seizes the brush and palette." In 1812 he was elected president of the Society of Artists in Edinburgh. On 29 August 1822 he received a knighthood during The visit of King George IV to Scotland and appointed His Majesty's limner for Scotland at the Earl of Hopetoun house, he died in Edinburgh not long after on 8th July 1823. Raeburn had all the essential qualities of a successful portrait painter, he was able to produce a forcible likeness. David Wilkie recorded that, while travelling in Spain and studying the works of Diego Velázquez, the brushwork remind
John Martin (painter)
John Martin was an English Romantic painter and illustrator. He was celebrated for his vast and melodramatic paintings of religious subjects and fantastic compositions, populated with minute figures placed in imposing landscapes. Martin's paintings, the prints made from them, enjoyed great success with the general public—in 1821 Thomas Lawrence referred to him as "the most popular painter of his day"—but were lambasted by John Ruskin and other critics. Martin was born in July 1789, in a one-room cottage, at Haydon Bridge, near Hexham in Northumberland, the fourth son of Fenwick Martin, a one-time fencing master, he was apprenticed by his father to a coachbuilder in Newcastle upon Tyne to learn heraldic painting, but owing to a dispute over wages the indentures were cancelled, he was placed instead under Boniface Musso, an Italian artist, father of the enamel painter Charles Muss. With his master, Martin moved from Newcastle to London in 1806, where he married at the age of nineteen, supported himself by giving drawing lessons, by painting in watercolours, on china and glass—his only surviving painted plate is now in a private collection in England.
His leisure was occupied in the study of architecture. His brothers were the eldest, an inventor. Martin began to supplement his income by painting sepia watercolours, he sent his first oil painting to the Royal Academy in 1810. In 1811 he sent the painting once again, when it was hung under the title A Landscape Composition as item no.46 in the Great Room. Thereafter, he produced a succession of large exhibited oil paintings: some landscapes, but more grand biblical themes inspired by the Old Testament, his landscapes have the ruggedness of the Northumberland crags, while some authors claim that his apocalyptic canvasses, such as The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, show his familiarity with the forges and ironworks of the Tyne Valley and display his intimate knowledge of the Old Testament. In the years of the Regency from 1812 onwards there was a fashion for such ‘sublime’ paintings. Martin's first break came at the end of a season at the Royal Academy, where his first major sublime canvas Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion had been hung—and ignored.
He brought it home, only to find there a visiting card from William Manning MP, who wanted to buy it from him. Patronage propelled Martin's career; this promising career was interrupted by the deaths of his father, mother and young son in a single year. Another distraction was William, who asked him to draw up plans for his inventions, whom he always indulged with help and money, but influenced by the works of John Milton, he continued with his grand themes despite setbacks. In 1816 Martin achieved public acclaim with Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gibeon though it broke many of the conventional rules of composition. In 1818, on the back of the sale of the Fall of Babylon for £420, he rid himself of debt and bought a house in Marylebone, where he came into contact with artists, writers and Whig nobility. Martin's triumph was Belshazzar's Feast, of which he boasted beforehand, "it shall make more noise than any picture did before... only don't tell anyone I said so." Five thousand people paid to see it.
It was nearly ruined when the carriage in which it was being transported was struck by a train at a level crossing near Oswestry. In private Martin was passionate, a devotee of chess—and, in common with his brothers and javelin-throwing—and a devout Christian, believing in "natural religion". Despite an cited singular instance of his hissing at the national anthem, he was courted by royalty and presented with several gold medals, one of them from the Russian Tsar Nicholas, on whom a visit to Wallsend colliery on Tyneside had made an unforgettable impression: "My God," he had cried, "it is like the mouth of Hell." Martin became the official historical painter to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg the first King of Belgium. Leopold was the godfather of Martin's son Leopold, endowed Martin with the Order of Leopold. Martin had early morning visits from another Saxe-Coburg, Prince Albert, who would engage him in banter from his horse—Martin standing in the doorway still in his dressing gown—at seven o'clock in the morning.
Martin was defender of deism and natural religion and rationality. Georges Cuvier became an admirer of Martin's, he enjoyed the company of scientists and writers—Charles Dickens, Michael Faraday and J. M. W. Turner among them. Martin began to experiment with mezzotint technology, as a result was commissioned to produce 24 engravings for a new edition of Paradise Lost—perhaps the definitive illustrations of Milton’s masterpiece, of which copies now fetch many hundreds of pounds. Politically his sympathies are not clear. At one time the Martins took under their wing a young woman called Jane Webb, who at twenty produced The Mummy! A optimistic but satirical vision of a steam-driven world in the 22nd century. Another friend was Charles Wheatstone, professor of physics at
Orest Adamovich Kiprensky was a leading Russian portraitist in the Age of Romanticism. His most familiar work is his portrait of Alexander Pushkin, which prompted the poet to remark that "the mirror flatters me". Orest was born in the village of Koporye near Saint Petersburg on 24 March 1782, he was an illegitimate son of a landowner Alexey Dyakonov, hence his name, derived from Kypris, one of the Greek names for the goddess of love. He was raised in the family of a serf. Although Kiprensky was born a serf, he was released from the serfdom upon his birth and his father helped him to enter a boarding school at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg in 1788, he studied at the boarding school and the Academy itself until 1803. He lived at the Academy for three more years as a pensioner to fulfill requirements necessary to win the Major Gold medal. Winning the first prize for his work Prince Dmitri Donskoi after the Battle of Kulikovo enabled the young artist to go abroad to study art in Europe.
A year before his graduation, in 1804, he painted the portrait of Adam Shvalber, his foster father, a great success. The portrait so impressed his contemporaries, that members of the Naples Academy of Arts took it for the painting by some Old Master – Rubens or van Dyck. Kiprensky had to ask the members of the Imperial Academy of Arts for letters supporting his authorship. After that, Kiprensky lived in Moscow, Tver 1811, Saint Petersburg 1812, in 1816–1822 he lived in Rome and Napoli. In Italy he met a local girl Anna Maria Falcucci, he employed as his ward. On leaving Italy, he sent her to a Roman Catholic convent. In 1828, Kiprensky came back to Italy, as he got a letter from his friend Samuel Halberg, informing him that they had lost track of Mariucci. Kiprensky found Mariucci, transferred to another convent. In 1836 he married her, he had to convert into Roman Catholicism from Russian Orthodoxy for this marriage to happen. He died by pneumonia in Rome that year, he is buried in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte.
Gallery of Kiprensky's works
Caspar David Friedrich
Caspar David Friedrich was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter considered the most important German artist of his generation. He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes which feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic or megalithic ruins, his primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, his symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. Friedrich's paintings characteristically set a human presence in diminished perspective amid expansive landscapes, reducing the figures to a scale that, according to the art historian Christopher John Murray, directs "the viewer's gaze towards their metaphysical dimension". Friedrich was born in the town of Greifswald on the Baltic Sea in what was at the time Swedish Pomerania, he studied in Copenhagen before settling in Dresden. He came of age during a period when, across Europe, a growing disillusionment with materialistic society was giving rise to a new appreciation of spirituality.
This shift in ideals was expressed through a reevaluation of the natural world, as artists such as Friedrich, J. M. W. Turner and John Constable sought to depict nature as a "divine creation, to be set against the artifice of human civilization". Friedrich's work brought him renown early in his career, contemporaries such as the French sculptor David d'Angers spoke of him as a man who had discovered "the tragedy of landscape", his work fell from favour during his years, he died in obscurity. As Germany moved towards modernisation in the late 19th century, a new sense of urgency characterised its art, Friedrich's contemplative depictions of stillness came to be seen as the products of a bygone age; the early 20th century brought a renewed appreciation of his work, beginning in 1906 with an exhibition of thirty-two of his paintings in Berlin. By the 1920s his paintings had been discovered by the Expressionists, in the 1930s and early 1940s Surrealists and Existentialists drew ideas from his work.
The rise of Nazism in the early 1930s again saw a resurgence in Friedrich's popularity, but this was followed by a sharp decline as his paintings were, by association with the Nazi movement, interpreted as having a nationalistic aspect. It was not until the late 1970s that Friedrich regained his reputation as an icon of the German Romantic movement and a painter of international importance. Caspar David Friedrich was born on 5 September 1774, in Greifswald, Swedish Pomerania, on the Baltic coast of Germany; the sixth of ten children, he was brought up in the strict Lutheran creed of his father Adolf Gottlieb Friedrich, a candle-maker and soap boiler. Records of the family's financial circumstances are contradictory. Caspar David was familiar with death from an early age, his mother, Sophie Dorothea Bechly, died in 1781. A year his sister Elisabeth died, while a second sister, succumbed to typhus in 1791. Arguably the greatest tragedy of his childhood happened in 1787 when his brother Johann Christoffer died: at the age of thirteen, Caspar David witnessed his younger brother fall through the ice of a frozen lake, drown.
Some accounts suggest that Johann Christoffer perished while trying to rescue Caspar David, in danger on the ice. Friedrich began his formal study of art in 1790 as a private student of artist Johann Gottfried Quistorp at the University of Greifswald in his home city, at which the art department is now named Caspar-David-Friedrich-Institut in his honour. Quistorp took his students on outdoor drawing excursions. Through Quistorp, Friedrich met and was subsequently influenced by the theologian Ludwig Gotthard Kosegarten, who taught that nature was a revelation of God. Quistorp introduced Friedrich to the work of the German 17th-century artist Adam Elsheimer, whose works included religious subjects dominated by landscape, nocturnal subjects. During this period he studied literature and aesthetics with Swedish professor Thomas Thorild. Four years Friedrich entered the prestigious Academy of Copenhagen, where he began his education by making copies of casts from antique sculptures before proceeding to drawing from life.
Living in Copenhagen afforded the young painter access to the Royal Picture Gallery's collection of 17th-century Dutch landscape painting. At the Academy he studied under teachers such as Christian August Lorentzen and the landscape painter Jens Juel; these artists were inspired by the Sturm und Drang movement and represented a midpoint between the dramatic intensity and expressive manner of the budding Romantic aesthetic and the waning neo-classical ideal. Mood was paramount, influence was drawn from such sources as the Icelandic legend of Edda, the poems of Ossian and Norse mythology. Friedrich settled permanently in Dresden in 1798. During this early period, he experimented in printmaking with etchings and designs for woodcuts which his furniture-maker brother cut. By 1804 he had produced four woodcuts. Despite these forays into other media, he gravitated toward working with ink and sepias. With the exception of a few early pieces, such as Landscape with Temple in Ruins, he did not work extensively with oils until his reputation was more established.
Landscapes were his preferred subject, inspired by frequent trips, beginning in 1801, to the Baltic coast, the Krkonoše and
1829 in art
Events in the year 1829 in Art. November – Thomas Hornor's Panoramic view of London, the largest panoramic painting created, is completed in the London Colosseum, purpose-designed by Decimus Burton in Regent's Park. Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin and his brother Jean Paul Flandrin set out to walk to Paris from Lyons, in order to become pupils of Louis Hersent. John Constable – Hadleigh Castle William Etty – Benaiah Christen Købke – View of Århus Cathedral Cornelis Kruseman – Portrait of Johannes van den Bosch Edwin Henry Landseer – An Illicit Whisky Still in the Highlands J. M. W. Turner – Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus David Wilkie – George IV in Highland dress John Hogan – The Dead Christ Carlo Marochetti – Young Girl Playing with a Dog Robert Mills – Washington Monument February 20 – Charles-Auguste Lebourg, French sculptor March 1 – Adolf Seel, German painter March 5 – Jean-Jacques Henner, French painter June 8 – John Everett Millais, English painter July 18 – Paul Dubois, French sculptor and painter July 25 – Elizabeth Siddal, English Pre-Raphaelite artists' model and poet August 19 – Edward Moran, American marine painter September 12 – Anselm Feuerbach, German classicist painter September 16 – Achille Emperaire, French painter and friend of Paul Cézanne November 20 – Albert Fitch Bellows, American landscape painter date unknown – John Lewis Brown, French painter January 6 – Louis Gerverot, French porcelain painter February 4 – Pierre Charles Baquoy, French painter and engraver of famous historical characters March 21 – George Engleheart, English miniaturist March 24 – Jean-Jacques Karpff, French painter and miniaturist May 24 – Michał Ceptowski, Bavarian-born stucco artist who settled and worked in Poland June 25 – Joseph Bergler the Younger, Austrian-born painter and etcher who settled and worked in Bohemia July 14 – Joseph Kreutzinger, Austrian portrait painter September 22 – Jes Bundsen, Danish architectural and landscape painter and etcher September 27 – Pietro Bettelini, Italian engraver November 12 – Jean-Baptiste Regnault, French painter date unknown Nikolai Ivanovich Argunov, Russian painter and academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of arts Joseph-François Ducq, Flemish historical and portrait painter Joseph Farey, English mechanical engineer and draughtsman Gai Qi, Chinese poet and painter Zhang Yin, Chinese Qing dynasty calligrapher and painter
Youth on the Prow, and Pleasure at the Helm
Youth on the Prow, Pleasure at the Helm is an oil painting on canvas by English artist William Etty, first exhibited in 1832 and in Tate Britain. Etty had been planning the painting since 1818–19, an early version was exhibited in 1822; the piece was inspired by a metaphor in Thomas Gray's poem The Bard in which the bright start to the notorious misrule of Richard II of England was compared to a gilded ship whose occupants are unaware of an approaching storm. Etty chose to illustrate Gray's lines depicting a golden boat filled with and surrounded by nude and near-nude figures. Etty felt that his approach to the work illustrated a moral warning about the pursuit of pleasure, but his approach was not successful; the Bard was about a supposed curse on the House of Plantagenet placed by a Welsh bard following Edward I of England's attempts to eradicate Welsh culture, critics felt that Etty had somewhat misunderstood the point of Gray's poem. Some reviewers praised the piece, in particular Etty's technical abilities, but audiences of the time found it hard to understand the purpose of Etty's painting, his use of nude figures led some critics to consider the work tasteless and offensive.
The painting was bought in 1832 by Robert Vernon to form part of his collection of British art. Vernon donated his collection, including Youth on the Prow, Pleasure at the Helm, to the National Gallery in 1847, which, in turn, transferred it to the Tate Gallery in 1949, it remains one of Etty's best-known works, formed part of major exhibitions at Tate Britain in 2001–02 and at the York Art Gallery in 2011–12. William Etty, the seventh son of a York baker and miller, had been an apprentice printer in Hull. On completing his seven-year apprenticeship at the age of 18 he moved to London "with a few pieces of chalk crayons", the intention of becoming a history painter in the tradition of the Old Masters, he enrolled in the Schools of the Royal Academy of Arts, studying under renowned portrait painter Thomas Lawrence. He submitted numerous paintings to the Royal Academy over the following decade, all of which were either rejected or received little attention when exhibited. In 1821 Etty's The Arrival of Cleopatra in Cilicia was a critical success.
The painting featured nude figures, over the following years Etty painted further nudes in biblical and mythological settings. All but one of the 15 paintings Etty exhibited in the 1820s included at least one nude figure. While some nudes existed in private collections, England had no tradition of nude painting and the display and distribution of nude material to the public had been suppressed since the 1787 Proclamation for the Discouragement of Vice. Etty was the first British artist to specialise in the nude, the reaction of the lower classes to these paintings caused concern throughout the 19th century. Although his portraits of male nudes were well received, many critics condemned his repeated depictions of female nudity as indecent. Youth on the Prow, Pleasure at the Helm was inspired by a passage in Thomas Gray's poem The Bard; the theme of The Bard was the English king Edward I's conquest of Wales, a curse placed by a Welsh bard upon Edward's descendants after he ordered the execution of all bards and the eradication of Welsh culture.
Etty used a passage Gray intended to symbolise the bright start to the disastrous reign of Edward's great-great-grandson Richard II. Etty chose to illustrate Gray's words creating what has been described as "a poetic romance". Youth and Pleasure depicts a small gilded boat. Above the boat, a nude figure representing Zephyr blows on the sails. Another nude representing Pleasure lies on a large bouquet of flowers, loosely holding the helm of the boat and allowing Zephyr's breeze to guide it. A nude child blows bubbles, which another nude on the prow of the ship, representing Youth, reaches to catch. Naiads, again nude, clamber on the boat. Although the seas are calm, a "sweeping whirlwind" is forming on the horizon, with a demonic figure within the storm clouds; the intertwined limbs of the participants were intended to evoke the sensation of transient and passing pleasure, to express the themes of female sexual appetites entrapping innocent youth, the sexual power women hold over men. Etty said of his approach to the text that he was hoping to create "a general allegory of Human Life, its empty vain pleasures—if not founded on the laws of Him, the Rock of Ages."
While Etty felt that the work conveyed a clear moral warning about the pursuit of pleasure, this lesson was lost upon its audiences. When Etty exhibited the completed painting at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1832, it was shown untitled, with the relevant six lines from The Bard attached. By the time of Etty's death in 1849, it had acquired its present title of Youth on the Prow, Pleasure at the Helm; the final version of Youth and Pleasure was painted between 1830 and 1832, but Etty had been contemplating a painting on the theme since 1818–19. In 1822 he had exhibited an early version at the British Institution titled A Sketch from One of Gray's Odes. Another rough version of the painting survives, similar to the 1832 version but again with the figures on the prow reversed; this version was exhibited at a retrospective of Etty's work at the Society of Arts in 1849.
The Barque of Dante
The Barque of Dante, sometimes known as Dante and Virgil in Hell, is the first major painting by the French artist Eugène Delacroix, one of the works signalling a shift in the character of narrative painting from Neo-Classicism towards the Romantic movement. It was completed for the opening of the Salon of 1822 and hangs in the Musée du Louvre, Paris; the painting is loosely based on fictional events taken from canto eight of Dante’s Inferno. A leaden, smoky mist and the blazing City of the Dead form the backdrop against which the poet Dante endures a fearful crossing of the River Styx, he is steadied by the learned poet of antiquity Virgil as they plough through waters heaving with tormented souls. The arrangement of figures is for the most part compliant with the tenets of the cool, reflective Neo-Classicism that had dominated French painting for nearly four decades. There is a group of central upright figures, a rational arrangement of subsidiary figures, all in horizontal planes, observing studied poses.
The Barque of Dante was an artistically ambitious work, although the composition is conventional, the painting in some important respects broke unmistakably free of the French Neo-Classical tradition. The smoke to the rear and the fierce movement of the garment in which the oarsman Phlegyas is wrapped indicate a strong wind, most of the individuals in the painting are facing into it; the river is choppy and the boat is lifted to the right, a point at which it is twisted toward the viewer. The party is driven to a destination known to be yet more inhospitable, by an oarsman whose sure-footed poise in the storm suggests his familiarity with these wild conditions; the city behind is a gigantic furnace. There is neither comfort nor a place of refuge in the painting’s world of rage and despair; the painting explores the psychological states of the individuals it depicts, uses compact, dramatic contrasts to highlight their different responses to their respective predicaments. Virgil’s detachment from the tumult surrounding him, his concern for Dante’s well-being, is an obvious counterpoint to the latter’s fear and physical state of imbalance.
The damned are either rapt in a piercing concentration upon some mad and gainless task, or are else in a state of total helplessness and loss. Their lining of the boat takes an up-and-down wave-like form, echoing the choppy water and making the foot of the painting a region of perilous instability; the souls to the far left and right are like grotesque bookends, enclosing the action and adding a claustrophobic touch to the whole. Delacroix wrote that his best painting of a head in this picture is that of the soul reaching with his forearm from the far side into the boat. Both Charles Le Brun’s, La Colère of 1668, John Flaxman’s line engraving The Fiery Sepulchres, appearing as plate 11 in The Divine Poem of Dante Alighieri, 1807, are sources for this head; the theatrical display of bold colours in the figures at the centre of the composition is striking. The red of Dante’s cowl resonates alarmingly with the fired mass behind him, vividly contrasts with the billowing blue about Phlegyas; the author Charles Blanc noted the white linen on Virgil’s mantle, describing it as a ‘great wake up in the middle of the dark, a flash in the tempest’.
Adolphe Loève-Veimars commented on the contrast between the colours used in Dante’s head, in the depiction of the damned, concluding that all this ‘leaves the soul with I know not what fell impression’. The drops of water running down the bodies of the damned are painted in a manner seen up to and including the early nineteenth century. Four different, unmixed pigments, in discretely applied quantities comprise the image of one drop and its shadow. White is used for highlighting, strokes of yellow and green denote the length of the drop, the shadow is red. Delacroix’s pupil and chief assistant of over a decade, Pierre Andrieu, recorded that Delacroix had told him the inspiration for these drops had come in part from the water drops visible on the nereids in Rubens’ The Landing of Marie de’ Medici at Marseilles, that the drops on The Barque of Dante were Delacroix’s point of departure as a colourist. Lee Johnson discussing these drops comments that “the analytical principle applies of dividing into pure coloured components an object that to the average eye would appear monochrome or colourless, is of far-reaching significance for the future.”
In a letter to his sister, Madame Henriette de Verninac, written in 1821, Delacroix speaks of his desire to paint for the Salon the following year, to ‘gain a little recognition’. In April 1822 he wrote to his friend Charles Soulier that he had been working hard and non-stop for two and a half months to that end; the Salon opened on April 24, 1822 and Delacroix’s painting was exhibited under the title Dante et Virgile conduits par Phlégias, traversent le lac qui entoure les murailles de la ville infernale de Dité. The intense labour, required to complete this painting in time left Delacroix weak and in need of recuperation. Critics expressed a range of opinions about The Barque of Dante. One of the judges at the Salon, Étienne-Jean Delécluze, was uncomplimentary, calling the work ‘a real daub’. Another judge, Antoine-Jean Gros, thought of it, describing it a ‘chastened Rubens’. An anonymous reviewer in Le Miroir expected Delacroix to become a ‘distinguished colourist’. One favourable piece of criticism from up-and-coming lawyer Adolphe Thiers received wide circulation in the liberal periodical Le Constitutionnel.
In the summer of 1822, the French State purchased the painting for 2000 Francs, moved it to the Musée du Luxembourg. De