Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

A Brilliant Collection of the World's Best Art from a Solitary Genius

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

A Brilliant Collection of the World's Best Art from a Solitary Genius

Article excerpt

A Brilliant Collection of the World's Best Art from a Solitary Genius Barthelemy Jobert. Delacroix: New and Expanded Edition. Printed in Italy. 342pp, 249 color and 47 black-and-white illustrations. ISBN: 978-0-691-18236-0. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.

Receiving a free art book full of Eugene Delacroix' (1798-1863) paintings is probably the fulfillment of a fantasy I have had since I was sixteen or so and doing little sketches, going to museums, and taking my first art classes. The book smells amazing. It was printed in Italy, and it smells like it was just seeped in ink days before it was shipped. The pages are as thick and the images are as clear as some of the best art books I have ever seen. The paintings glitter from reflecting light. The resolution is infinitely better than viewing one of these on Wikipedia or another online source. Unlike an art collection I might have gleamed while on a stop at a library, I am going to be able to refer back to this book for inspiration for years to come. The descriptions of Delacroix' life and the meaning, intentions and political, religious and other contexts around these images are outstanding and answer the exact questions I find myself asking as I browse through these. I am also discovering, as I look closer at this book that Delacroix was closely tied to some of my favorite French authors, Alexander Dumas and George Sand. And he drew not only my favorite paintings of George Sand and her little garden, but also some of the best-known revolutionary art, most notably, Liberty Leading the People, the image that has been used in rebellious posters over the following centuries. The author, Barthelemy Jobert, uses a quote from Dumas to explain what this work meant in its own time: "'That Liberty is not at all the classic Liberty; it is a young woman of the people, one of those who fight not to be tutoyee, outraged, violated by the great lords'" (130-1). I am tempted to break with tradition and give this book 6 stars, but that would hardly be fair, as I can't really judge books as superior only when they meet my own youthful dreams and fantasies about joining this group of artists and writers. Jobert explains that the Liberty painting took five months, and the details and perspective tricks in it certainly could not have been achieved in any less of a span. In addition to the great canonical works of art, there are also curious sketches, including raw sheets he painted briskly during a trip across Morocco (146-7). The sketches build in detail, and then Women of Algiers in Their Apartment (1834) is presented (152-3). …

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