He is really trying to create a unified pictorial surface. He is painting the flesh tones and the landscape tones at the same time and they are basically either complementary or quite strongly contrasting. So you are modeling with color rather than with line or with tone. And he is doing that because he is totally offended by what his colleagues are doing in the realist camp, especially Courbet.
As he is painting this picture he writes about Courbet’s Bathers, what Courbet has done is he has painted a landscape in the studio and then he has painted this figure and pasted it on top, there is no integration of the surface, there is no integration. And this, to Delacroix, is stupid and it makes no sense. He writes, it’s boorish, you know the man has no taste and why is he doing this and etc., etc. And then he goes back to it later and he says, what, how can he paint this picture this way and not have the figure integrated visually within the landscape. That’s not realism, that’s just silly. He is just preoccupied with this issue. You know it’s going to become an issue for every artist, how do you create this integrated pictorial surface where everything is in-sync and nothing stands out, nothing looks that like it’s artificial or pasted, so optically how do you create this with paint.
And that’s really what the significance of this picture is, although it was painted on commission for someone who said, I want a bathing scene. So he said, okay and he did it but he had so many motives in taking this on because he did not paint many nudes. I believe he took this commission on and satisfied it because he wanted to really have a crack at Courbet.Back to parent stop