The Italian Theatre
H. 21.5 cm;W.19.6cm
Gift of the Socieété des Amis du Musée Eugène Delacroix, 2007
Delacroix published some dozen caricatures in the early 1820s. On his return from England in 1825, he began work on his series of lithographic masterpieces (Faust, Hamlet, etc.). The artist’s early works differed greatly from his subsequent production, and as a result were long neglected. The Italian Theatre and its companion piece The Grand Opera - also owned by the museum - were published in the Miroir des spectacles. The Grand Opera ridicules the Academy of Music through the figure of the elderly dancer Vestris, portrayed dancing with brooms as crutches; the other print shows Rossini, standing proudly with legs wide apart as he holds aloft the characters from his great triumphs: Othello, and Rosine and Figaro from the Barber of Seville. Delacroix was later to modify his opinion of Rossini, but this caricature marks his youthful enthusiasm for the composer’s revitalization of the Parisian scene. The author of the text accompanying this caricature in the Miroir of August 13, 1821, was none other than Stendhal, who published his Life of Rossini two years later. In his commentary, Stendhal pretends to denounce "M. Lacroix" for publishing such blasphemy against the musical "ancien régime" - and without even signing his drawing.
Barthélémy Jobert, in Delacroix, le trait romantique, exhibition catalogue, Paris Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1998, p.88, n° 34.
Jean-Marie Bruson, in Rossini à Paris, exhibition catalogue, Paris Musée Carnavalet, 1992, p.33, n°30.