Eugène Delacroix (1798 - 1863)
The Artist’s studio sale, Hôtel Drouot, 22-27 February 1864, (probably part of lot 200)
Private collection, England
Christie’s, London, July 30, 1999, lot 134
cf. P. Grunchec, L`opera completa di Gericault, 1978, no. 179.
cf. Grand Palais, Paris, Gericault, 1991, p. 136-141, cat. 175-177.
L. Johnson, The paintings of Eugène Delacroix, A Critical Catalogue, 1832,
Vol. IV, second printing, and future Vols. V and VI, second printings.
The Journal of Eugène Delacroix, 1995, p. 361, 383-84.
Delacroix may have used our study while working on his first masterpiece of 1822,
The Barque of Dante. In the lower right of that painting, a drowning man grabs the beard of a second drowning man, with a hand that recalls in reversed position the central motif of our picture.
More than thirty years latter, Delacroix wrote in his Journal of 1857 “As I was having luncheon today, two pictures ascribed to Géricault were brought to me to give an opinion on. The small one is a very indifferent copy; costumes of Roman beggars. The other is an amphitheatre subject; arms, feet, etc. also dead bodies; it is admirable in strength and relief, with those careless lapses so characteristic of the painter`s style, and which further increase its value. … The fragment by Géricault is truly sublime; it more than ever proves that there is neither serpent nor horrible monster, etc., and is the best possible argument in favour of the Beautiful, as it should be understood.”