Devotion to Drawing: The Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix at The Met Fifth Avenue, July 17 – November 12, 2018

“Renowned as a giant of French Romantic painting, Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863) was equally a dedicated and innovative draftsman. The Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, generously promised to The Met, presents the exceptional opportunity to examine the central role of drawing in the artist’s practice and the scope of his graphic production. 

Delacroix’s drawings remained largely unknown to the public during his lifetime. The thousands of sheets discovered in his studio upon his death revealed the extent of his devotion to the medium. The privacy of his drawing practice and the significance of these works in his formation and process make them vital to understanding the artist. 

This exhibition traces the variety of ways Delacroix used drawing throughout his career: to train his hand and eye through copying and direct observation of nature; to invent, research, and refine his ideas for paintings, public decorative programs, and prints; and to explore the expressive potential of his materials. 

Delacroix defies easy classification as a draftsman. He rejected the prevailing prescription for a singular method or ideal manner of drawing in favor of an individual approach. In their diversity, his drawings convey the liberating force of an artist whose inexhaustible ambition and curiosity fueled relentless invention.” — Introductory Wall Text

Two Studies of a Reclining Male Nude, after Théodore Gericault (recto); Figure Studies after Rubens’s “Fall of the Damned” (verso), ca. 1820–22. Graphite, pen and brown ink (recto); pen and brush and brown ink (verso). 10 in. × 13 1/16 in. (25.4 × 33.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, in honor of Clement C. Moore II.

Normandy Sketchbook, 1829. Graphite and watercolor on wove paper, period binding. 4 5/16 × 6 in. (11 × 15.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, in memory of Arthur G. Cohen.

Sunset, ca. 1850. Pastel on blue laid paper. 8 1/16 x 10 3/16 in. (20.4 x 25.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, in honor of Philippe de Montebello, 2014.

Page from the Othello Sketchbook, 1855. Watercolor over graphite. 5 1/4 × 3 1/4 in. (13.3 × 8.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix.

The Agony in the Garden, ca. 1849. Brush and brown and black wash. 4 7/16 × 7 5/8 in. (11.3 × 19.4 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix.

Figure Studies, related to “Liberty Leading the People”, 1830. Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash. 8 7/16 x 13 7/16 in. (21.5 x 34.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, in honor of Keith Christiansen, 2013.

The Education of Achilles, ca. 1844. Graphite. 9 5/16 x 11 11/16 in. (23.6 x 29.7 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, in honor of Emily Rafferty, 2014.

Hamlet Reproaches His Mother, ca. 1834. Graphite. 6 7/8 x 9 3/16 in. (17.5 x 23.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, in memory of Lucien Goldschmidt, 2013.

Crouching Tiger, 1839. Pen and brush and iron gall ink. Overall: 5 3/16 x 7 3/8 in. (13.1 x 18.7 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift from the Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, in honor of Sanford I. Weill, 2013

Devotion to Drawing: The Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix is organized by Ashley E. Dunn, Assistant Curator in The Met’s Department of Drawings and Prints.

Images courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.