Eugene Delacroix Jacob Wrestling with the Angel Original Etching
Here we are offering a very fine and rare etched image of Eugene Delacroix "Jacob Wrestling with the Angel" Original Etching etched by Greuze, a practice totally accepted by Delacriox and other artist of the period for work in oils to be etched by well respected engravers working with the artist . This work measure 9 by 12.5 inches (plate mark) and in excellent condition, inscribed as shown.
Among the subjects painted by Delacroix for the Chapelle des Saints-Anges (the Chapel of the Guardian Angels) at the church of Saint Sulpice in Paris, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel is without doubt one of his most powerful compositions. The scheme for the chapel murals - also including Heliodorus Driven from the Temple, and St Michael Defeating the Devil - presents three Biblical scenes featuring angels as warrior-like messengers of the redeeming power of God. At first glance, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (as related in Genesis: 32) celebrates the beauty of Nature, with its huge trees and twisted trunks. But its chief subject remains the strange pair of wrestlers, their struggle a symbol of Man’s spiritual quest, during which Jacob is injured but not defeated. In this late work, finished in 1861, Delacroix embarks on his own, ultimate aesthetic quest.
Delacroix received the commission to decorate a chapel in the church of Saint Sulpice in Paris by decree of the Préfecture de Seine, on April 28, 1848, issued by the Fine Arts division and its director, Antoine Varcolliers. Unexpectedly, he changed the original theme to the Guardian Angels, noting in his diary that the decision was taken "on their very Feast Day," October 2, 1849. Interrupted by other more urgent projects - notably the central section of the ceiling in the Apollo Gallery at the Louvre (1850-51), the paintings for Paris City Hall (1852-54) and the great retrospective of his work for the Universal Exhibition of 1855 - and further complicated by the technical difficulty of the work, the decorations for the chapel (the first on the right entering through the West door) were finally inaugurated on July 31, 1861, two years before the artist’s death.
The study for Jacob Wrestling with the Angel in the Musée Delacroix was probably executed in 1850, when the painter recorded that he was at work on "sketches for Saint Sulpice, to be submitted to the Préfecture" (Journal, February 27, 1850). Other preparatory studies are scattered in several different collections, including the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA), where the combatants are reversed, to the right of the picture; an ink transfer by Delacroix, now in the Musée Delacroix, shows the same arrangement. Here, Jacob’s frontal attack, with his knee raised high, shows his absolute courage and determination: the definitive composition retains the same attacking posture. The artist suggests the figures’ almost dance-like movement, using light, rapid pencil strokes: the lightly-sketched angel fends off the attack and wounds Jacob in the thigh. But this figure shows none of the serene, implacable equilibrium embodied by the nameless angel in the finished painting on the chapel wall, his wings held firmly upright after the long night’s struggle.
Delacroix was maybe inspired by Lamartine’s Poetical Meditations, which describe the two beings entwined like the knotted trunks of the trees looming .
The official opening of the chapel lasted a week, from July 31 to August 6, 1861, but not all of the invited guests responded. Delacroix’s artist friends came, however, prompting him to observe: "I was assured on all sides that I was not yet dead." (Correspondance générale, Joubin, 1935, IV, p.269-270). Articles of high praise by Théophile Thoré and Charles Baudelaire were countered by critical reviews from Emile Galichon or Louis Vitet. "This is a great religious subject," wrote Barrès, "the fury of the brave figure diving to wrestle with his ideal is a powerful exaltation of the human soul in all its mystery." It should be noted that Delacroix invariably favored scenes highlighting trials of Faith, evoking his own religious skepticism (numerous images of Christ on the Cross, Christ at the Column, and the Pilgrims at Emmaus; several versions of Christ on the Lake of Gennesaret). At the end of his life, this spiritual anguish, rooted in his agnostic youth, naturally led him to the celebrated but dark, mysterious episode of Jacob’s struggle with the Angel.
Throughout his life, Delacroix engaged in the artist’s solitary struggle, constantly measuring and challenging his own creative powers, and - why not? - pitting himself against God the Creator, in the person of the Angel. Like Jacob on the night before crossing the ford over the Jabboq river, he is alone. Like the son of Isaac, Delacroix’s struggle is a form of exaltation: "In truth, painting taunts and torments me in a thousand ways, like the most demanding of mistresses," as he confided in his journal on January 1, 1861, in the midst of work on the chapel at Saint Sulpice. "For four months, I have scurried away at first light, rushing to continue this enchanting work, as if at the feet of the most beloved mistress; things that seemed - at a distance - to be the easiest to overcome in fact present appalling, interminable difficulties. How is it, then, that instead of casting me down, this eternal combat uplifts me; not discouraging, but consoling me
Here we have a rare etching AFTER Delacroix work first executed in oil and etched with the artist approval by Jean-Baptiste Greuze was born at Tournus, Saône-et-Loire. He is generally said to have formed his own talent; this is, however, true only in the most limited sense, for at an early age his inclinations, though thwarted by his father, were encouraged by a Lyonnese artist named Grandon, or Grondom, who enjoyed during his lifetime considerable reputation as a Engraver of works by leading Artist of his day abd in his own right ,portrait-painter. Grandon not only persuaded the father of Greuze to give way to his sons wishes, and permit the lad to accompany him as his pupil to Lyon, but, when at a later date he-himself left Lyon for Paris — where his son-in-law Grétry the celebrated composer enjoyed the height of favour — Grandon carried young Greuze with him.
Settled in Paris,
Greuze worked from the living model in the school of the Royal Academy (Paris), but did not attract the attention of his teachers; and when he produced his first picture, "Le Père de famille expliquant la Bible a ses enfants," considerable doubt was felt and shown as to his share in its production. By other and more remarkable works of the same class Greuze soon established his claims beyond contest, and won for himself the notice and support of the well-known connoisseur La Live de Jully, the brother-in-law of Madame d'Epinay. In 1755 Greuze exhibited his "Aveugle trompé," upon which, presented by Pigalle the sculptor, he was immediately agréé by the Academy.
Towards the close of the same year he left France for Italy, in company with the Abbé Louis Gougenot, who had deserted from the magistrature — although he had obtained the post of conseiller au Châtelet in order to take the petit collet. Gougenot had some acquaintance with the arts, and was highly valued by the Academicians, who, during his journey with Greuze, elected him an honorary member of their body on account of his studies in mythology and allegory; his acquirements in these respects are said to have been largely utilized by them, but to Greuze they were of doubtful advantage, and he lost rather than gained by this visit to Italy in Gougenot's company. He had undertaken it probably in order to silence those who taxed him with ignorance of great models of style, but the Italian subjects which formed the entirety of his contributions to the Salon of 1757 showed that he had been put on a false track, and he speedily returned to the source of his first inspiration.
Greuze wished to be received as a historical painter, and produced a work which he intended to vindicate his right to despise his qualifications as a peintre de genre. This unfortunate canvas "Sévère et Caracalla" (Louvre) was exhibited in 1769 side by side with Greuze's portrait of "Jeaurat" (Louvre) and his admirable "Petite Fille au chien noir". The Academicians received their new member with all due honours, but at the close of the ceremonies the Director addressed Greuze in these words "Monsieur, l'Académie vous a reçu, mais c'est comme peintre de genre; elle a eu égard à vos anciennes productions, qui sont excellentes, et elle a fermé les yeux sur celle-ci, qui n'est digne ni d'elle ni de vous." (Sir, the Academy has accepted you, but only as peintre de genre; the Academy has respect for your former productions, which are excellent, but she has shut her eyes to this one, which is unworthy, both of her and of you yourself.) Greuze, greatly incensed, quarrelled with his confreres, and ceased to exhibit until, in 1804, the Revolution had thrown open the doors of the Academy to all the world.
In the following year, on 4 March 1805, he died in the Louvre in great poverty. He had been in receipt of considerable wealth, which he had dissipated by extravagance and bad management (as well as embezzlement by his wife), so that during his closing years he was forced even to solicit commissions which his enfeebled powers no longer enabled him to carry out with success. The brilliant reputation which Greuze acquired seems to have been due, not to his accomplishments as a painter for his practice, but is evidently that current in his own debut to the character of the subjects which he treated. That return to nature which inspired Rousseau's attacks upon an artificial civilization demanded expression in art.
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