Jacob & Angel Journal of Eugène Delacroix

More Journal Entries
on October 12

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Jacob Wrestling Angel (1861)

Delacroix's Self-Portrait (1837)
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Worked with frenzy the whole day, until after three o'clock. I couldn't break away from it. I pushed ahead the grisaille of the Moroccan Mounting his Horse, the Fight Between a Lion and a Tiger, the small Woman of Algiers with a Greyhound, and applied color to the cartoon of the Hamlet Killing Polonius.

Taking a walk after such a spell of work is a real delight. The weather is still very fine. I simply have to refrain from enjoying the landscape in the morning, except from my windows; going out for even a short time distracts my mind from work and condemns me to boredom for the rest of the day, on account of the difficulty of getting back afterward into a working mood.

Painters who simply reproduce their studies in their pictures will never give to the spectator a lively feeling of nature. The spectator is moved because nature reappears in his memory even while he is looking at your picture. It is necessary for your picture already to have received its properties of grace and idealization, if the ideal, which recollection implants whether we like it or not in our memory of all things, is not to find you inferior to what it regards as a representation of nature.

In the evening, took a walk with Jenny. The sight of the stars shining through the trees gave me the idea of doing a picture in which I might use that highly poetic effect; it is difficult in painting because it makes the whole canvas dark: it might be appropriate for a Flight into Egypt. Saint Joseph leading the donkey and throwing the light of his lantern on the water of a little ford; that weak illumination would suffice in the matter of the contrasts; or again the Shepherds going to adore Christ in the Stable, its doors wide open; and seen from a distance; or again the Caravan of the Magi.

— Eugene Delacroix, Journal, October 12, 1854

The complement of memory is needed if enjoyment is to be perfect, and unfortunately one cannot at the same time enjoy and recall enjoyment. That is the ideal added to the real. Memory extracts the moment of delight or creates the necessary illusion.

— Eugene Delacroix, Journal, October 12, 1856

Real beauty in the arts is eternal and would be accepted at all periods; but it wears the dress of its century: something of that dress clings to it, and woe to the works which appear in periods when the general taste is corrupted! Truth is described to us as naked: I can conceive that only for abstract truth; but every truth in the arts comes about through means in which the hand of man is felt, and consequently with the form agreed on and adopted in the time when the artist lives.

— Eugene Delacroix, Journal, October 12, 1859

The Journal of Eugène Delacroix
     translated from the French by Walter Pach
     Grove Press, New York, 1961

Top of Page | Delacroix's Illumination | Delacroix Paintings: CGFA (15) | WebMuseum, Paris (19) | The Artchive (30) | Olga's Gallery (54) | OCAIW (95)
"The Other Side of Delacroix" (International Herald Tribune 4-18-1998) | "From Saints to Sunsets: Works of Delacroix " (Smithsonian Sept. 1998)
"Delacroix: French Romantic Art" | "Delacroix: Portrait of a Master" (Art Lovers' Paris) | "Delacroix: Classicist or Romanticist"
Delacroix Biography (National Gallery of Art) | Delacroix Biography (Catholic Encyclopedia) | Delacroix Biography (Encarta Encyclopedia)
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