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Addendum 5, 29 April 2019
Delacroix' technique: « flochetage »
Eugène Delacroix is to a large degree an incompletely studied artist, and seriously under-appreciated as a result, especially on this side of the Atlantic, where his life and career corresponded with the development of the "Hudson River School," and its second generation that focused on the West, both of whose artists dealt almost exclusively with landscapes of the "New World." His own life and career changed focuses several times as well, and he was contested and under-appreciated by many in his own country during his lifetime. In addition, many of his large paintings, in oil on canvas, but attached to walls and ceilings, are in buildings not open to the general public. He was in fact, however, perhaps the most revolutionary of his entire century, because his innovations led to the styles of the generations of artists that followed: the "Impressionists" and the "Divisionists" that include the "Pointillistes," also called the Neo-Impressionists, and even to Vincent Van Gogh's technique, who were considered revolutionary in their times, while Delacroix was not, and all of whom admired his works and style; we love all of those and know them better than we do him.
A scene in the movie At Eternity's Gate shows Van Gogh (actor Willem Dafoe) roaming through the Grande Galerie of the Louvre, passing by several of Delacroix' major works, only one of which you are likely to recognize: Liberté guidant le people (1830, so that Revolution, not the 1789 one; the man on her right is said to be a self-portrait of the painter, and the young child on her left is said to have been Victor Hugo's inspiration for Gavroche in Les Misérables, but neither is around to ask for verification). The camera lingers on a work which you will likely not know, and Van Gogh mentions him in the script/soundtrack as a painter he admires. But his technique developed and grew slowly, and at the same time his subjects followed in the general traditions and trends of the art of earlier eras, so you will likely not see how his style could possibly have led to theirs.
His contemporary, the well-known and prolific (not to say verbose) art critic (also an artist) Étienne-Jean Delécluze (1781-1863) wrote of him, in his book about the Exposition universelle of 1855: Les Beaux-Arts dans les Deux Mondes en 1855 (Paris: Charpentier, 1856, p. 199): « Deux toiles d'un jeune homme de talent, dont nous aurons bientôt l'occasion d'apprécier l'ensemble des ouvrages, apparurent aux Salons de 1822 et 1824, le Dante et Virgile conduits par Phlégias et le Massacre de Chio [correct full name Scènes des Massacres de Scio], de M. E Delacroix. Je n'aurai pas l'injustice d'accuser ce peintre, fort jeune alors, d'avoir cherché, de parti pris et résolu alors, à changer complètement les principes sur lesquels l'art de la peinture repose depuis Léonard de Vinci et même depuis l'antiquité ; mais ce qu'il faut tenir pour certain et ce qui est un fait acquis à l'histoire, est la révolution subite, instantanée que produisirent ces deux ouvrages dans les idées des hommes jeunes encore qui entraient dans la carrière de l'art. » (Two paintings by a talented young man [he was 24 and 26], the whole of whose work we will shortly assess, were shown in the Salons of 1822 and 1824, Dante and Vergil rowed by Phlegias and the Massacre of Chios, by Mr. E. Delacroix. I will not have the injustice of accusing the painter, very young, of having attempted, deliberately and resolutely, to completely change the principles on which painting is built since Leonardo da Vinci and even since antiquity; but what must be held for certainty and is an historical fact, is the sudden, instantaneous revolution that these two works produced in the ideas of the younger men who were entering the art career. My translation)
The title of the chapter (# 2) devoted to Delacroix in a recent book: L'oeil-cerveau, (The Brain-Eye) by Eric Alliez (Paris: Vrin, 2007; Eng. translation by Robin Mackay, 2015), "Delacroix and the Massacre of Painting" – alluding to the painting: Scènes des Massacres de Scio – is an astute characterization of the nature, extent, and impact of his changes to the techniques of painting. (I have not seen the original French, but the phrase is also found in Signac, 1964, p. 68 [Eng. trans., p. 230], and originates in Blanc [See below], p. 35, attributed to artist Antoine-Jean Gros (1771-1835), and was intended as a negative assessment, that Signac turns into a positive one.)
A decade earlier, poet and budding art critic Charles Baudelaire opened the first section (II) of his first review (a 72-page book) of an exhibition, that of the official Salon de 1845 (Paris: Jules Labitte, 1845, p. 7), devoted to History Paintings with these sentences: « M. Delacroix est décidément le peintre le plus original des temps anciens et des temps modernes. Cela est ainsi, qu'y faire ? Aucun des amis de M. Delacroix, et des plus enthousiastes, n'a osé le dire simplement, crûment, impudemment, comme nous. » (Mr. Delacroix is decidedly the most original painter of ancient times and of modern times. That's the way it is, what shall be done about it? None of Mr. Delacroix' friends, even the most enthusiastic ones, has dared to say it simply, crudely, impudently, as we [do]." The jurors had accepted four paintings by him: La Madeleine dans le désert [1843-45], Dernières paroles de Marc-Aurèle , Une Sibylle qui montre le Rameau d'or , and Le Sultan du Maroc entouré de sa garde et de ses officiers .
He elaborates, in discussing the 1st, by saying: « […] Elle est peinte presque par hachures comme beaucoup des peintures de M. Delacroix; les tons, loin d'être éclatants ou intenses, sont très-doux et très-modérés ; l'aspect est presque gris, mais d'une harmonie parfaite. […] » (It is painted almost by hatchings like many of Mr. Delacroix' paintings; the tones, far from being brilliant or intense, are very soft, very even; the appearance is almost gray, but of a perfect harmony.) In discussing the 4th, he writes: « Voilà le tableau dont nous voulions parler tout à l'heure quand nous affirmions que M. Delacroix avait progressé dans la science de l'harmonie. […] Fit-on jamais chanter sur une toile de plus capricieuses mélodies ? un plus prodigieux accord de tons nouveaux, inconnus, délicats, charmants ? » (This is the painting to which I referred earlier when I affirmed that Mr. Delacroix had progressed in the science of harmony. […] Has anyone ever made a canvas sing more capricious melodies? a more prodigious chord of new, unknown, delicate, charming tones?) Note the use of musical terminology. It continues similarly to the end of the discussion and moves on to the next painter: Horace Vernet.
Baudelaire (1821-67, 23 years younger than Delacroix, and he was always conscious of what this meant for him) met Delacroix in 1845, in his own recollection (See below), likely in some way related to the Salon; he reviewed others, in 1846, 1855, and 1859, in which Delacroix exhibited, and in all cases devoted a section of his review to the artist's works shown. He also reviewed Salons in which Delacroix did not participate, and wrote separate articles about some of his mural and ceiling paintings in churches and government buildings (not open to the public without appointments). He knew Delacroix well and they apparently met occasionally to talk and discuss art, in Delacroix' studio(s) and perhaps also in public places like the Salons and cafés. There are, however, very few mentions in Delacroix' Journal of their relationship: the longest is the entry of about 5 lines on 5 February 1849, when he visited Delacroix in his studio for a few hours, seemingly after lunch as Delacroix was preparing to resume work on a small painting and continue work on Les Femmes d'Alger […], [2nd version, shown in the Salon de 1848, and touched up afterwards, as Delacroix often did; the 1st version was shown in the Salon de 1834], and mentions other artists they discussed (Hannoosh, pp. 416-17). Baudelaire's name appears, twice, in a list of people he knew, drawn up on two successive days (did he not look back at his previous entry?), 3 & 4 January 1855, perhaps related in some way to the Exposition universelle, with their addresses, for Baudelaire, one where he lived about 6 months: 19 July-23 December 1855 (Hannoosh, p. 873).
After Delacroix' death on 13 August 1863, Baudelaire wrote a eulogy, in a form (made clear by its opening and closing paragraphs) equivalent to a lengthy letter to the editor, an 8-section article, published in 3 issues of l'Opinion nationale, a daily political newspaper (published 1859-1914), on 2 September, and 14 and 22 November, entitled: « L'œuvre et la vie d'Eugène Delacroix », the earliest biographical item about him. All of his writings about art were gathered into a single volume with a critical apparatus by Henri Lemaitre: Baudelaire, Curiosités esthétiques, L'Art romantique, et autres Œuvres critiques (Paris: Garnier, 1962, Pp. 956), an invaluable resource. Its notes are brief, but excellent, its Index comprehensive: 86 entries for Delacroix, plus 14 to its "Introduction," both include several multi-page ones, meaning there are many more mentions of him; as far as I can determine, this work has never been translated into English.
This is also the most complete, detailed, and intimate biographical writing about Delacroix by a contemporary who had a close, albeit not intimate like Chopin's (which he mentions, p. 442), and long-standing (c. 18 years) relationship with him, from an objective perspective because of its professional nature, and because of his own feelings of respect, which he does not hide; he was an adamant and outspoken supporter of Delacroix' works. Sections V and VI give the most details of him as a person. Section III is a compilation of notes he wrote subsequent to several lengthy conversations with Delacroix (« […] maintes conversations que j'ai eues avec lui. », p. 426), and of things he wrote in earlier publications such as the Salon reviews. Some of the shorter sentences are likely fairly close to verbatim quotes, while other longer ones are clearly the result of retrospective composition. It is easy to discern which are which, because he writes in such a straightforward manner, and he links them with additional comments and observations composed at the time of this writing/compilation, and printed in a larger typeface. Very little duplicates things that Delacroix wrote in his Journal, and little involving him took place during the years (1825-1846 inclusive) for which those volumes are missing, so little can be established for them here, nor was he privy to those private records from subsequent years, not published until long after his own death. This c. 30-page article has never to my knowledge been translated into English.
Some statements on color in terms of music recorded by Baudelaire are quoted in several places, here and by other subsequent authors, including Signac (See below):
« L'art du coloriste tient évidemment par de certains côtés aux mathématiques et à la musique. » (p. 428; from his Salon de 1859, p. 327; The Art of a colorist obviously draws in some aspects from mathematics and music.); and similarly:
« On trouve dans la couleur l'harmonie, la mélodie et le contre-point. » (One finds in color harmony, melody, and counterpoint., from his Salon de 1846, p. 106)
On Delacroix' physical palette, Baudelaire comments: « Pour le dire en passant, je n'ai jamais vu de palette aussi minutieusement et aussi délicatement préparée que celle de Delacroix. Cela ressemblait à un bouquet de fleurs savamment assorties. » (A comment in passing: I have never seen a palette as minutely and as delicately prepared as that of Delacxroix. It resembled a bouquet of flowers skillfully matched/chosen., p. 428); and on the same subject: « Après un déjeuner plus léger que celui d'un Arabe, et sa palette minutieusement composée avec le soin d'une bouquetière ou d'un étalagiste d'étoffes, Delacroix cherchait à aborder l'idée interrompue […] (After a lunch lighter than an Arab's, and with his palette minutely/meticulously composed with the care of a florist's bouquets or a fabric vendor's display of cloths, Delacroix sought to pick up the interrupted idea […]. p. 451; my translations; might this have been on the occasion of his visit to Delacroix' studio mentioned in the latter's diary, referenced above?)
Baudelaire writes: « C'est à cette préoccupation incessante qu'il faut attribuer ses recherches perpétuelles relatives à la couleur, à la qualité des couleurs, sa curiosité des choses de la chimie et ses conversations avec les fabricateurs de couleurs. Par là il se rapproche de Léonard de Vinci, qui, lui aussi, fut envahi par les mêmes obsessions. » (It is to this incessant preoccupation that his perpetual research relating to colors, to the quality of colors must be attributed, his curiosity for things about the chemistry and his constant conversations with the manufacturers of colors. In this he follows closely Leonardo da Vinci, who was also invaded by the same obsessions; p. 427). On the subject of lines and colors: « Pour parler exactement, il n'y a dans la nature ni ligne ni couleur. C'est l'homme qui crée la ligne et la couleur. Ce sont des abstractions qui tirent leur égale noblesse d'une même origine. » (To speak precisely, there are in nature neither line nor color. It is man who creates the line and the color. They are two abstractions that draw their equal nobility from the same origin; p. 432, my translations of all quotes). This, if these are indeed Delacroix' words, as their brevity suggests, shows that he did understand that the eye and the brain are responsible for the way they are perceived.
Delacroix was called « le Rubens français » (Baudelaire, p. 418); Claire Brunot writes in « Le silence de Baudelaire, » in Géricault, ed. Régis Michel (Paris : La Documentation Française, vol. 2 , pp. 841-67) « [..] we might tell the story as follows : brilliant heir to Titian's and Veronese's feeling for colour' combined with Rubens's 'fury of the brush', admirer of the English innovators in their break with 'uniform tint', but also an impeccable analyst of the black execution of Géricault's Anatomical Fragments as they sever themselves from any transcendence or narration whatsoever – proof if any were needed that 'the original painter does not always require a subject'[…]" (Alliez, p. 73/Mackay, p. 54); this is as good a capsule summary of his heritage and his revolution in technique as can be written.
Concerning his passing, Baudelaire wrote in closing: « Il y a dans un grand deuil national un affaissement de vitalité générale, un obscurcissement de l'intellect qui ressemble à une éclipse solaire, imitation momentanée de la fin du monde. Je crois cependant que cette impression affecte surtout ces hautains solitaires qui ne peuvent se faire une famille que par les relations intellectuelles. Quant aux autres citoyens, pour la plupart, ils n'apprennent que peu à peu à connaître tout ce qu'a perdu la patrie en perdant le grand homme, et quel vide il fait en la quittant. Encore faut-il les avertir. » (There is in a great national mourning a collapse of general vitality, a darkening of the intellect that resembles a solar eclipse, momentary imitation of the end of the world. I believe, however, that this impression affects especially the aloof solitaries who cannot form a family except through intellectual relationships. As for the other citizens, for the most part, they only learn little by little to know all that the country has lost in losing the great man, and what void he leaves creates in leaving it., They still must be notified.; my translation, the last sentence explaining why he has written the piece, p. 451).
Paul Signac (1863-1935, b. the year Delacroix died; another under-known and under-appreciated important French artist, who, unlike Delacroix [See below], met Chevreul in 1884 [p. 76 in 1964 ed., p. 237 in Eng. trans.], and exhibited here, in the famous 1913 Armory show in NYC, Chicago, and Boston) wrote D'Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme (Paris: Revue Blanche, 1899 [It had appeared in the magazine in installments in 1898.], 2nd ed. pub. by Floury, 1911, 3rd ed., 1921 [only one translated into English, by Willa Silverman, in Floyd Ratliff, Paul Signac and Color in Neo-Impressionism, New York: Rockefeller Univ. Press, 1992, pp. 197-285], 4th ed., 1939, both Floury, rpt 1964, Hermann) in which he devotes the first 2 chapters ("Documents" and "Contributions of Delacroix") to Delacroix.
A footnote by him on p. 2 of the "Note préliminaire" distinguishes between « ton » and « teinte »: « Les mots ton et teinte étant généralement employés l'un pour l'autre, précisons que nous entendons par teinte la qualité d'une couleur, et par ton le degré de saturation ou de luminosité d'une teinte. La dégradation d'une couleur vers une autre créera une série de teintes intermédiaires, et le dégradé d'une de ces teintes vers le clair ou le foncé passera par une succession de tons. » (The words ton [= shade/tone] and teinte [= tint], being generally used one for the other [i.e., as synonyms], let us specify that we mean by tint the quality of a color, and by tone the degree of saturation and of luminosity of a tint. The degradation of a color towards another will create a series of intermediary tints, and the shade of one of these/those tints towards the lighter or the darker will occur by a succession of tones; my translation) The language itself can lead and has led to confusion. Different artists, not to mention different viewers, use the terms differently, but this strikes me as the way Delacroix used them, which I believe is what Signac is attempting to establish.
This is an excellent place to read about his technique, because Signac's text, whose paragraphs/topics are numbered within each chapter, reproduces all the statements Delacroix made in his Journal and Correspondence on the subject with explanations (but without specific source references, alas, though with Hannoosh's superb new edition of the former, many can be located via the intermediary of the 1964 Hermann rpt/ed. of the Signac, which has a scholarly apparatus with meticulous notes by Françoise Cachin that include the dates of the entries, although the references themselves are to earlier and incomplete eds. of the Journal by Paul Flat and René Plot, 1893-95, & André Joubin, 1961 [Hermann, p. 38 n. 1]; the task is more challenging, but not impossible, if you do not read French easily and need to start with the English translation). It is also the best chronological tracing of Delacroix' sources and the development of his technique, which appears to have begun when he first encountered the five paintings that John Constable (1776-1837) sent to be shown at the Salon of 1824, and noticed that the fields were not painted with one single hue/ton of green, but with adjacent lines of several tints/teintes of it, as confirmed by a later (1847) note in his Livre bleu I (Journal, ed. Hannoosh, p. 1652, n. 24), which refers to something by Constable that he read somewhere, not something he said, because, in spite of Delacroix' attempt to visit him when he was in London, he was not home when Delacroix arrived at his residence.
Delacroix spoke of the phenomenon that inspired this technique in a 4-way conversation with his pupil, Maurice Dudevant/Sand (1823-1889), son of George Sand, who was also present, with her then boyfriend, Frédéric/Fryderyk Chopin, but no comments by those three were recorded by her in 1841, in her Impressions et Souvenirs, (Paris: Lévy, 1873, rpt 1896; available online), pp. 72-90, when she claims it occurred. It was clearly after 1836, year in which the 3 adults met, and before 1849, year of Chopin's death; Maurice would have been 18 that year, so in view of the nature of the conversation, it might well have been earlier (he began taking lessons from Delacroix in his studio c.1835), but not likely later, in view of the progression in his development and use in his works of his technique. So, I view this as a "pedagogical moment" that he seized, whose subject was the relation between the colors or tones of pigments and those of sounds in music.
He probably didn't know it at the time, but what he was describing and doing was what Michel Eugène Chevreul called the law of the simultaneous contrast of colors, in his De la loi du contraste simultané des couleurs, published in 1839. Delacroix apparently did not know Chevreul, although both frequented the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, arriving there from different directions: Chevreul was a chemist who worked for the Gobelins Tapestry Works nearby to its South, and was always on the lookout for potential dyes from exotic plants, which were abundant in the Jardin; and Delacroix, whose studios were always North & West of it, was interested in observing and studying the exotic animals, particularly the large cats, housed in its zoo and their movements, with a view of representing them in his paintings, so they might well have crossed paths there. He did become aware of the book later, and read or consulted it, likely in the 1850s, and made an appointment to meet him, but was too ill to go (Signac, p. 327, Eng. trans.).
His technique consisted in painting thin lines of close but different tints of the same color adjacent to each other so they become imperceptibly joined, because he also eliminated the traditional black lines that had defined the edges of the subjects being portrayed from time immemorial. The result is called « mélange optique » (= optical mixing/blending). He created the term "flochetage" to name the procedure. It is also referred to as "hachetage" (= hatching); the "ch" is pronounced like "sh" in both. Art critic Charles Blanc (1813-1892) discusses this in the chapter (2nd) devoted to Delacroix in his Les Artistes de mon temps, (Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1872, pp. 23-88; rpt, without illustrations, as a book, Un artiste de mon temps, Eugène Delacroix, La Rochelle: Rumeur des Ages, 1998, 62 pp.):
« Nous arrivons ici au mélange optique… Lorsque nous regardons à quelques pas un châle de cachemire, nous percevons le plus souvent des tons qui ne sont pas dans le tissu, mais qui se composent d'eux-mêmes dans notre [/] œil, par l'effet des réactions réciproques d'un ton sur l'autre. Deux couleurs juxtaposées ou superposées dans certaines proportions (c'est-à-dire suivant l'étendue que chacune d'elles occupera) formeront une troisième couleur que nos regards percevront à distance, sans que le tisseur ou le peintre l'aient écrite. Cette troisième couleur est une résultante que l'artiste a prévue et qui est née du mélange optique. Les tons les plus précieux, les plus fins, les plus rares, Eugène Delacroix ne les apprêtait point sur sa palette avant de les poser sur le mur ; il en calculait la composition future et spontanée ; il les faisait résulter de sa combinaison. Par exemple, dans les Femmes d'Alger, telle chemise à semis de petites fleurs donne naissance à un troisième ton indéfinissable, que l'œil perçoit, mais que la langue ne peut nommer avec précision, et que jamais un copiste n'obtiendra s'il veut le composer d'avance et la porter sur la toile au bout d'un pinceau. »
("We now arrive at optical mixing/blending… When we look from a few steps away at a cashmere shawl, we most often perceive tones that are not woven into the fabric, but which compose themselves in our [/] eye, through the effect of reciprocal reactions of one tone upon another. Two colors juxtaposed or superimposed in certain proportions (i.e., depending on the space that each one occupies) will form a third color that our glances perceive at a distance, without the weaver or the painter having used it. This third color is a result that the artist has foreseen/planned and that is born from the optical mixing/blending. The most precious tons, the finest tones, the rarest tones, Eugène Delacroix did not prepare them on his palette before placing them on the wall; he calculated the future and spontaneous composition; he made them result from his combination. For example, in the Women of Algiers, a blouse with random small flowers gives birth to a third indefinable tone, that the eye perceives, but that the tongue cannot name precisely, and that a copyist could never obtain if he wanted to compose it in advance and put it on his canvas from the tip of his brush." Blanc, pp. 73-4, rpt, pp. 47-8; my translation: « mélange » has both meanings, although they are nor strictly synonyms in English)
Several art historians and critics say that he invented this method of painting near the end of his life, in the late 1850s and early 1860s, to wit, in a handy online list of art terms in French: « Flochetage (n. m.) Employé pour la première fois afin d'analyser les tableaux réalisés par Eugène Delacroix vers la fin de sa vie, ce terme qualifie une façon de poser la peinture par touches de couleurs séparées, comme des virgules plus ou moins rectilignes. Le post-impressionniste Paul Gauguin avait aussi une « touche flochetée » selon les experts. » (Used for the first time to analyze the paintings made by Eugène Delacroix towards the end of his life, this term describes a method of placing paint by strokes of separated colors, like more or less straight-line commas. The Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin also used a « flochetée » stroke according to the experts.) and « Flochetage, n. m., Terme utilisé par Delacroix [my Itals: actually created/invented by him] pour désigner une technique picturale proche de la division des tons telle qu'il la pratique à la fin de sa vie, dans des œuvres comme la Lutte de Jacob avec l'Ange (Paris, église Saint-Sulpice, chapelle des Saints-Anges, 1861) : " Au lieu de poser la couleur juste à sa place, brillante et pure, il entrelace les teintes, les rompt et, assimilant le pinceau à une navette, cherche à former un tissu dont les fils multicolores se croisent et s'interrompent à chaque instant " (Villot) ».(Instead of placing his color right in its place, bright and pure, he interlaces the tones, interrupts them, and, handling the brush like a shuttle, seeks to weave a cloth whose multi-colors criss-cross and interrupt each other at every instant.) Larousse : Dictionnaire de la peinture, online, 23.03.2019.
But, as the earlier quotes above prove, he was already doing it in the 1820s: It puts thin lines of different colors or tones/tints of a same color adjacent to each other on the canvas so they produce the impression of blending to create yet another color, which is, in fact, an illusion. The elimination of the outline in black that previously/traditionally delineated the objects/subjects being portrayed, made the colors themselves perform that function; black and white were simply other colors intermingled with those of the spectrum in all their nuanced varieties. There is a beginning of it in the very 1st painting he exhibited in the Salon of 1822: La Barque de Dante (its better-known name than the official one above). It becomes increasingly more prominent from the Scènes des Massacres de Scio (Salon of 1824) to La Mort de Sardanapale (Salon of 1827-28). While working on the Chios painting, he had the opportunity to view privately on 19 June 1824 the 5 paintings by John Constable, among his most famous, that were to be exhibited at the Salon (Journal, Hannoosh, ed., p. 170, n. 334)
He really perfected his technique after his 6-month trip to Morocco and Algeria in 1832 (over 30 years before his death), with stops in Spain and Toulon on the way down and back (when he had to be quarantined because of the laws), during which he encountered colors, materials, patterns, clothing, fabrics, architecture, and buildings, the likes of which he had never before seen, but that he found fascinating and gorgeous. Maxime du Camp (1822-1894, writer, especially on travel [once with Gustave Flaubert] in the "Orient," history, and art, and photographer) reported that he said, in a discussion about couleur abstraite: « Les plus beaux tableaux que j'ai vus sont certains tapis de Perse. » (The most beautiful pictures I have seen are some Persian carpets.; Souvenirs littéraires (Paris: Hachette.1892, rpt Aubier, 1994, p. 493; preceded by « Je lui ai entendu dire [I heard him say] : ». This is also found in Alliez, p. 91; Mackay, p. 64, + n. 83, p. 107, and was reported in René Huyghe (1906-97, writer on the history, philosophy, and psychology of art, curator of paintings at the Louvre, 1930-74, and of the centenary exhibition there in 1963), Delacroix; ou le combat solitare (Paris: Hachette, 1964), p. 165; Eng. trans., Jonathan Griffin (London: Thames and Hudson, 1963, sic.; The © is held by T & H; both eds were printed in France, apparently the Eng. 1st, though the French was obviously the original), p. 164: this book was published to honor the centennial of Delacroix' death. Huyghe also wrote an excellent biography, without scholarly apparatus, though no less authoritative: Delacroix; ou le combat solitare (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1990; deliberate re-use of the title, p. 271), that has not been translated into English; the above quote appears on p. 96, with another description of « flochetage » comparing it to an array of strands from skeins of yarns of various colors that du Camp observed Delacroix make by placing and weaving them together that also appears in several other places. This is the best biography that I have encountered, containing information that I have not seen anywhere else, yet eminently readable; he is likely the greatest Delacroix scholar to have lived since his subject's death, whom he seems to be channeling.
It culminated in La Chasse aux lions (The Lion Hunt) (1854, Exposition universelle of 1855), to which some critics at the time referred as a "mass of color." "This insight came from the artist's time in North Africa, experiencing the strong light and bright colours there. His preference for Venetian colour over Florentine line and for developing designs on the canvas was definitely aligned to Romantic ideals rather than Neo-classical systematic preparation through extensive sketches, studies and set compositions." Click here. But he still made many of those; he left c. 6,000 in his studio when he died, that were sold at auction afterwards, 16-29 February 1864, and scattered all over the world, with many found in collections, private and public, here in the USA, quite a few at The Clark in Williamstown, MA, which also owns a small painting (viewable via the same link), for example.
Sébastien Allard and Côme Fabre, authors of the catalogue for the major 2108 retrospective exhibition, shown first in the Louvre in Paris (29 March - 23 July), and then in The Metropolitan Museum in New York (17 September – 6 January 2019; the 1st ever of his works in the USA; Click here: Delacroix, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018 (Distributed by Yale University Press), describe very well Delacroix's innovative approach to color technique:
"Above all, flochetage entailed a departure from the classical notion of local color, which is predicated on the essence of a thing. The principle assumes that every object possesses a natural color that can be isolated by precisely drawing the model. Black is then added to that color to produce shadows, in a subtle chiaroscuro. Delacroix realized that the addition of black only muddied the color because the shadows themselves are colored, resulting, as they do, from reflections. […] in The Women of Algiers, Delacroix experimented intuitively and for the first time with the law of simultaneous contrast and the optical mixture of complementary colors. […] This manner of paint application confers on the viewer an active role, since the mixing of colors occurs in the eye and brain rather than on the palette. A more intense green is achieved, for instance, when a painter, instead of mixing a yellow with a blue and a dab of yellow on the canvas, following a method Delacroix would call flochetage." (1st part of quote, p. 96; 2nd & 3rd parts, on p. 95, omitting "which would be theorized by the chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul five years later, in 1839" in the 2nd ellipsis)
Delacroix est le dernier des grands maîtres influencés par la peinture de la Renaissance. Son goût pour les compositions imposantes, son choix de sujets historiques ou littéraires dérivent de l'art du 16e siècle, mais il est aussi - selon les mots de Baudelaire - le premier des Modernes. Tout en innovant dans le domaine des couleurs, il use d'une touche en "flochetage*" et prélude ainsi aux recherches des impressionnistes. De plus, la violence, aujourd'hui affadie, de ses tons annonce la peinture fauve, expressionniste ou même abstraite. *flochetage : ses coups de pinceau ne suivent pas toujours exactement le contour des objets.
(Delacroix is the last of the great masters influenced by Renaissance painting. His taste for large imposing compositions, his choice of historic or literary subjects derive form the art of the 16th century, but he is also – in the words of Baudcelaire – the first of the Moderns. While innovating in the realm of colors, he used a technique in "flochetage*" and thus foreshadows the experiments of the Impressionists. In addition, the violence, today faded, of his tones announces the paintings of the Fauves, Expressionism[,] or even Abstraction. * flochetage: his brush strokes do not always follow exactly the contours of the objects. My translation)
There is a Twitter site: @MasterDelacroix
*** (For Part I of this article, click here.)