Eric Bruce

Patrick Noon, Head Curator of this exhibition will share insights into these next three paintings.

Patrick Noon

Van Gogh was totally enamored of Delacroix’s religious subject matter because he was a very religious person himself but also his color theory. Van Gogh basically learned about Delacroix through publications when he was in art school in the Netherlands. So he finally decides he is going to go to Paris in 1886. He arrives and he writes back immediately, there is a lot to see here especially Delacroix.

At one auction, he sees a painting, he becomes transfixed by and it’s Christ on the Sea of Galilee. He writes how extraordinary Delacroix’s use of chrome yellow and Prussian blue. And he becomes fixated on this juxtaposition of that yellow halo and the deep blues and greens of the water in this picture. He starts painting pictures that are based on chrome yellow and Prussian blue, all series of pictures where that’s basically the main palette.

And so Vincent Van Gogh ends up in the asylum at Saint-Rémy. And while he is at the asylum, he has with him a black and white lithograph which reproduces a painting by Delacroix of the Pieta and decides he is going to make a copy of it which we have here. And he copies this painting which he had never seen, and he makes this painting which is twice the size of Delacroix’s original painting. But he is painting it in a palette of blue and yellow. He is painting it as if this is the way Delacroix would have used these colors in this kind of composition.

He also then puts his own features on Christ. He is doing the copy of Delacroix’s Pieta at the same time as he is painting the olive grove series. So there is an infusion of a religious sentiment into what he sees as totally naturalistic and realistic depictions from nature without having to do this kind of introduction of figures which he doesn’t think modern artists are capable of doing.

Eric Bruce

Imagine these two intense artists, Cézanne and Van Gogh, working together in a small room. The green button will tell you all about their big fight.