Lamar Peterson is an artist and Assistant Professor of Drawing and Painting at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Art.
Delacroix is definitely one of my favorite artists. His sense of drama in his work is something that I think about in my own work as well. And he was working from his imagination starting with an inspiration or an idea or a theme and then taking that to the realm of the imagination and making something that you necessarily would not see in the natural world.
I don’t think that he actually witnessed a Lion Hunt. So this is all from his imagination and this lion hunt is very, very disturbing and almost tragic but there is something about it, it also has cinematographic feeling. Certain parts of the composition are so dense with information, it allows you to rest on a certain spot of the composition and move through other places within the painting and notice things that you may not have noticed the first time you viewed the piece. And I really enjoy that being able to look at work of art and seeing something different every time you view it.
There is circular composition going on where you kind of start off with the hunter on the horse in the back and his spear lifted, he is further from the action of the hunt itself, further in the back. He looks a little surprised to me. The horse is startled, one hoof or leg is raised. Just below him, a poor unfortunate man has been murdered or eaten or killed or maimed by one of the lions and he is lying face down. There is two hunters engaged in battle with a male lion trying to take the attention from the lion’s goal to kill another hunter. It’s just in the grips of the lion’s claws.
Next to him is another man who looks like he has lost his shoe, a little shoe to me visually adds a lot to the composition. Gives you a place to settle your eye and think about that shoe and think about how you are looking at a moment in time. A little detail there leaves a lot to think about. Really interesting that he added that single shoe there, separate from the action of the battle.
To the left part of the composition of the painting you have a fallen horse, this lioness’ paw scratching into the belly of the mare as she is dragging across her belly and there is places where you see that there is blood, you know there is pain there. And there is another hunter that’s just fallen off the horse and again looks surprised and unsure of what to do next, he has his sword that’s on the ground and it looks like he is just fallen off and he is about leap to his feet again and maybe try to attempt to kill the lioness that stopped to devour his fallen horse.
Then we have one single hunter in the background holding a spear in an action pose, he is about to spear the lioness, again he is further away in the distance. There is so much going on in his painting that I keep finding different ways to interpret what has happened here.
The Green button will take you to Lamar’s personal exploration of how Delacroix influences his work.