Title: Homage to Delacroix
Author : FANTIN-LATOUR Henri (1836 - 1904)
Creation date : 1864 -
Dimensions: Height 160 cm - Width 250 cm
Storage location: Orsay Museum website
Contact copyright: © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
Picture reference: 96-019040 / RF 1664
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
Publication date: October 2016
This painting was composed in homage to Eugène Delacroix, shortly after his death in 1863. The painter, erected in the 1830s as a champion of modernity, in opposition to Ingres, in the battle of the classics against the romantics, is considered as one of the champions of the renewal of art by a whole generation of artists, including Théodore Chassériau.
Charles Baudelaire has boundless admiration for Delacroix: he collected his lithographs from the 1840s and, from 1845, praised his artistic prowess in the very first Salon reviews he wrote. In his text devoted to the Salon of 1846, he places the chief painter of the modern school, perpetuating the opposition with Ingres.
On the news of the romantic's death, Baudelaire is devastated. On August 17, 1863, he went to his funeral with other personalities, including Édouard Manet and Henri Fantin-Latour. The three men are mortified by the warmth of the reactions shown during the burial of the one who participated in the embellishment of the national buildings and of which one of the last masterpieces was executed for the Chapel of the Saints. Angels of the Saint-Sulpice church, in Paris. They are also shocked by the distant speech of the sculptor François Jouffroy, representative of the Academy, and by the weak echo of the event in the press - only Théophile Gautier, Paul de Saint-Victor and Arsène Houssaye devote an article to death of the great painter. In response to these reactions flouting the genius of Delacroix, Baudelaire and Fantin-Latour are considering the creation of a painting in homage to the one they consider to be "the most original painter of ancient times and modern times".
This large-scale painting shows several characters gathered around a portrait of Delacroix, painted from a photograph taken by Victor Laisné in 1852. It is at the center of the composition and is the object of all eyes, those of the spectators and not those of the men represented. On the contrary, they insistently challenge the public so that it focuses on the object of their meeting which sits above them, demonstrating the power of Delacroix's artistic genius.
The defenders of Delacroix represented on the canvas are, starting from bottom left, the writer and critic Edmond Duranty, Fantin-Latour himself, in a white shirt and holding a palette in his hand, the American painter James Whistler , the critic and theorist Jules Husson dit Champfleury, Charles Baudelaire, the painters Louis Cordier, Alphonse Legros, Édouard Manet (standing next to the portrait of the master), Félix Bracquemond and Albert de Balleroy.
The composition is very tight, giving the impression of a space without depth, and punctuated by the sitting and standing positions of the different characters.
This form of meeting of artists is directly inspired by the art of the XVIIe century. Fantin-Latour is doubtless inspired by the copy made in 1862 by Louis Dubois of the Banquet of officers of the Saint-Adrien archers corps in Haarlem by Frans Hals (1627, Frans-Hals museum in Haarlem) as well as the Provost of Merchants and Aldermen of the City of Paris by Philippe de Champaigne (1647-1648, Louvre museum in Paris). In the latter painting, the place of the crucifix is central, as is the portrait of Delacroix here, assimilating the latter to a tutelary figure. The bouquet of flowers lightens the colors of the composition, and refers to those placed on the altars.
This arrangement is definitely innovative and attests to Fantin-Latour's desire for modernity. This does not resort to allegory, a choice made by Ingres for the portrait of Cherubini, nor to the more classic concept of the presence of Delacroix within an audience of illustrious artists, as Baudelaire had imagined. Fantin-Latour includes only his contemporaries, demonstrating the importance of the recognition to be given to the master by the formal breaking of the homage.
The men represented here make manifest and embody an artistic renewal. Relying on the impression of rejection and therefore of cohesion that they felt during the Salon des refusés in 1863, Fantin-Latour, Legros, Manet, Whistler, Balleroy and Bracquemond imagine the emergence of a new school to which they think they belong. That feeling quickly fades for Fantin-Latour. Although the members represented have changed from the first thoughts of Fantin-Latour and Whistler (the latter had proposed to include the English painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti), some are depicted on this canvas almost out of spite or lack of anything better, like Balleroy, whose work is little appreciated by Fantin-Latour, or even Legros, present more for his friendship with Fantin-Latour, Champfleury and Manet than for artistic recognition.
Exhibited at the Salon of 1864, the work is controversial because it is perceived by critics as a manifesto of realism. Gustave Courbet not being represented, Champfleury is clearly identified as the "father of realism", as is Manet. The group is considered presumptuous to call themselves Delacroix, while most of its members are still young and little known to the public and critics themselves. In addition, we do not understand this tribute, which bears only the name and in no way glorifies the late artist but rather, it seems, the characters represented, who all turn their backs on who they are. supposed to worship.
Faced with the scale of the controversy and the incomprehension of the press, more particularly of Rousseau du Figaro, Fantin-Latour decides to answer in the same newspaper. In his letter, he presents each member of the group and re-establishes the vocation of his work, claiming Courbet and realism with the astute aim of taking over and for the group an artistic affiliation. Although this statement does not satisfy all of the critics, it nevertheless lays the foundations for a renewal and allows Fantin-Latour to take a place on the art scene through its Homage to Delacroix.
- art critic
- Baudelaire (Charles)
- Artistic current
- Gautier (Théophile)
- Manet (Edouard)
- Art fair
- Courbet (Gustave)
- Delacroix (Eugene)
BAUDELAIRE Charles, Aesthetic curiosities, Paris, FB Éditions, 2014 [ed. orig. 1868].
DRUICK Douglas, HOOG Michel (dir.), Fantin-Latour, cat. exp. (Paris, Ottawa, San Francisco, 1982-1983), Paris, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1982.
LERIBAULT Christophe (dir.), Fantin-Latour, Manet, Baudelaire: Homage to Delacroix, cat. (Paris, 2011-2012), Paris, Louvre Éditions / Le Passage Paris - New York, 2011.
To cite this article
Saskia HANSELAAR, "L’Homage to Delacroix, manifesto of Fantin-Latour ”