This sheet featuring a common poppy, an anemone and a Californian poppy illustrates the naturalist’s curiosity Delacroix had for all things in nature. Once he had completed such a study, the artist could then paint floral compositions bursting with imagination and color, like the flower paintings presented at the Salon of 1849.
The joy of nature
Delacroix loved nature and felt a deep need to commune with it, far from the noise of the city. For that reason, he rented in 1844 and went on to purchase in 1858 a small house in Champrosay at the edge of the Sénart forest. It is also a well-known fact that he enjoyed the peace and quiet of his little Paris garden on rue de Fürstenberg (current location of the Musée Delacroix). Sensitive to the beauty of the landscapes, trees, and flowers, all essential sources of inspiration for the colorist painter, he observed and sketched during his
delicious walks and jotted in his Journal here and there:
profusion of enormous flowers,
camellia of an extraordinary size,
subtle structure of a yellow lily… He let this wealth of colors and impressions flow into his brushes upon return to the studio.
The study of flowers
The painter observed flowers accurately and delicately, with both their botanical and aesthetic interest in mind. The format of this subtle, airy drawing recalls the plates used to illustrate botanical books in the early 19th century. Delacroix used watercolor for this work, which renders the fragility and subtle harmonies of the flowers to perfection.
Painted bouquets of flowers
Delacroix also used oil to paint the flowers he had observed and drawn, either in bouquets or in natural outdoor settings. For the Salon of 1849, he painted in 1848–49 five large floral compositions with a luxuriance that offered a riot of color in a genuine
feast for the eyes.
- Ivan Bergerol, Arlette Sérullaz, Eugène Delacroix, aquarelles et lavis au pinceau, Paris, 1998, p. 102 repr.
- Delacroix: des fleurs en hivers, Jean-Michel Othoniel et Johan Creten, catalogue exposition musée Delacroix, Paris, co-édition musée du Louvre – Le Passage, 2012, repr. p.71.