Title: Jewish wedding in Morocco.
Author : DELACROIX Eugène (1798 - 1863)
Dimensions: Height 105 - Width 140
Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas
Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website
Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Louvre Museum) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi
Picture reference: 96-023092 / INV3825
© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Louvre Museum) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi
Publication date: April 2012
At the beginning of the year 1832, Delacroix, who had hardly traveled until then, joined the delegation of Count de Mornay dispatched by France to Morocco to Moulay Abd er-Rahman in order to ascertain the intentions of 'a country that the French intervention in Algeria had alarmed. Interrupted briefly by a stay in this "other East" that is Andalusia, the trip to Morocco which ended in June 1832 is one of the most significant events in the life of the painter, who deployed on the spot an immense activity of designer (to which the famous Notebooks testify), feverishly storing up a treasure of images and sensations that would nourish his art throughout his life.
On February 21, 1832, Delacroix was able to attend a Jewish wedding in Tangier. In a way characteristic of her attitude during the stay, the artist sketched from life, observed (in particular the reclusion of the bride, effectively absent from the painting) and meticulously recorded the details of the feast and its beginnings. Years later, he will situate the scene in the interior courtyard of a house in Tangier (the very one where the wedding took place?) Whose architecture he had precisely noted, noting in an admirable watercolor drawing (Louvre) the color of each element. This painting therefore largely proceeds from a process of recreation nourished by the painter's memories and supported by a series of drawings executed during the stay and used as a collage. Delacroix nevertheless restores in a striking way this Judeo-Moorish festival to which he confers a timeless grandeur that goes far beyond a sluggishly anecdotal exoticism, which perhaps displeased Count Maison, who had commissioned him a painting which, in the end, he did not want. not. Not giving in to any facility, especially chromatic (no “oriental shimmer” in this semi-twilight scene where an admirable white wall receives most of the light), the artist impeccably composes his painting by contrasting the variety of attitudes. and costumes with the architectural rigor of a space punctuated by obliques, horizontals and green verticals.
Free spirit, moved by a curiosity which is verified in particular about the Jews of Morocco whose interpreter of the French delegation, Abraham Benchimol, opened the doors to him, Delacroix described at length this Jewish wedding in January 1842 in the review The Picturesque Store. If he did not always know how to rise above the prejudices of his time (the music heard during the wedding seemed to him to be only a trying cacophony, and he stressed that the "contortions" of the dancers would be watched "at home. we […] as in very bad taste ”), he was nonetheless sensitive to the intensity of the feelings and to the solemnity rich in shapes and colors which accompanied large ceremonies among his hosts and contrasted with the stiff coldness. Europeans. Above all, the experience of this Tangier wedding and the work required for its pictorial transcription helped Delacroix to develop a properly colorist approach to painting, including the great Venetian and Flemish masters of the XVIe and XVIIe centuries had laid the groundwork. At the Salon of 1841, the painting received a fairly good reception from critics, who were nevertheless baffled by an invoice that seemed to juxtapose brushstrokes "given as if at random" (Delécluze). Nothing hazardous, however, in the small touches of pure color placed in the shadows by a painter whose stay in Morocco had reinforced in the intuition of the solidarity of light and color indissolubly intertwined in an infinite game of reflections.
Study in partnership with the Museum of Art and History of Judaism
JOHNSON Lee, The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix - A critical catalog. 1832-1863.Volume III.Text.Oxford, 1986, ed. Revised and corrected, 1993, n ° 366.Peter RAUTMANN, Delacroix, Paris, Citadelles & Mazenod, coll . "Les Phares", 1997.ROSSI-BORTOLATTO Luigina (introduction P.GEORGEL), All the painted work of Delacroix, Milan, 1972, éd.fr. Paris, 1984 (reviewed and updated by H. BESSIS), no. ° 295.TRAPP Frank Anderson, The Attainment of Delacroix, Baltimore and London, 1971, p.129-134.
To cite this article
Alexis MERLE du BOURG, "Jewish wedding in Morocco"