Gift of Mme B. Méra, 1993
0, 210 m
Signé : Chinard de Lyon
Victoire (1758-1814) was the daughter of Louis XV’s famous cabinetmaker, Jean-François Oeben. In 1778, she married Charles Delacroix (1741-1805), a deputy from the Marne region during the Convention (who voted in favor of the death of Louis XVI). He later became Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Directoire, and then prefect in Marseille and Bordeaux. The counterpart to this medallion depicts a portrait of Charles Delacroix and is also in the Musée National Eugène Collection. It is signed: Chinard de l’Institut et de l’Athénée de Lyon à Marseille.
According to a persistent rumor that circulated around Parisians sitting rooms and is repeated in many of the painter’s biographers, Victoire apparently shared her favors with both her husband and Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord (1754-1838). The latter was Charles Delacroix’s successor as Minister of Foreign Affairs. During Victoire’s pregnancy, Charles was representing the government of the Republic in Holland-and, seven months and thirteen days before Delacroix’s birth, he had been operated for a tumor that deprived him "of all the interests of virility."
This medallion and its counterpart were created after the sculptor met Charles Beaudelaire, a meeting arranged by Raymond de Verninac, prefect of the Rhône from 1800 to 1802, who had married the painter’s sister, Henriette. In all likelihood, other copies of this pair were to have been created for for various members of the Delacroix family.
The two medallions in the Musée National Eugène Delacroix were cast using plaster models that are frequently reproduced in works about Delacroix, although their location, even today, remains problematic. Raymond Escholier (1926) claimed they were in the Musée du Petit Palais, but this information was denied by the curators, who did not find any mention of these two medallions in their files. As for the reference made to them in 1919 by Étienne Moreau-Nélaton, according to which the medallions then belonged to Camille Bornot (son of Louis Cyr Bornot, Delacroix’s cousin), the descendents of the latter can neither confirm nor contradict this information, though it is plausible.