Delacroix was a very prolific painter of religious subjects. Religious painting was in the air, it was something that most artists were practicing that was revival of religious painting, and he did say when he was painting religious subjects that they provided him with the widest latitude for his creative imagination.
Of Delacroix’s religious painting, Baudelaire wrote, “All that there is of anguish in Christ’s Passion impassions Delacroix.” I think he did actually relate to them in a spiritual way. He was not a very religious man but he recognized the virtue and the strength of religious subject matter in Christ’s Passion, but he only chooses a certain number of scenes or topics from the life of Christ. I mean Delacroix basically says, painting is just a bridge between the imagination of the artist and the imagination of the viewer.
How do you move that imagination, that spiritualism and that whatever you want to call it in the viewer. Illustration doesn’t do it, I mean you can take a subject and illustrate it carefully so that the narrative is understood, but the actual emotive quality of that illustration or the emotive potential isn’t being felt because you are not describing it. Whereas in a picture like this or any of these things you are not reacting to the story, you are being moved by the way the artist has interpreted and presented the story by way of his technique and using paint and using color, and it’s become the bridge and you get there by whatever means you need to get there.
Baudelaire describes Delacroix’s work as blood, light and darkness. Press the Green button to hear why.