Patrick Noon

The second phase of Delacroix’s orientalism is actually ‘The Experienced.’ In 1830 the French invaded North Africa, they invaded Algeria in response to the Barbary pirates. They then decided to colonize North Africa. So in 1832 Louis Philippe the King of France sent a diplomatic mission to Morocco to secure the support to a peace treaty with the Sultan of Morocco. The Comte de Mornay was the diplomat who was sent with an entourage and Delacroix was asked to go as his draftsman, really but I think Mornay just wanted him as a companion.

So Delacroix thought this was a fantastic opportunity and they spent six months in North Africa, mostly in Tangiers in Morocco. While there, he created a huge number of water color drawings of the people, the landscape, the architecture. He was fascinated by the culture of North Africa he was fascinated by the natives who were mix Jewish and Arab decent. And he viewed the inhabitance of Tangiers of North Africa as the true decedents of ancients, this is what they were like: tan, simply closed, very noble. This is how he saw inhabitants.

This was a very important moment in his life because he was one of the first French artists to actually travel the North Africa. His early pictures certainly has certain cache of authenticity which greatly impressed contemporary French audiences who were not only impressed by shocked by what they were seeing, but also Delacroix’s color schemes, he has experienced something quite dramatic, different from the leaden skies of Paris.

When he gets back to Paris, he paints three major pictures which he exhibits in the 1830s based on this experience. The very first was the Women of Algiers in their Apartment, which we have a later version of in the show. The second was The Jewish Wedding which we have a copy by Renoir at the beginning of our exhibition. And then the third was the Convulsionists of Tangiers and it was acquired by one of our founders James J. Hill, who was in fact the most important collector of Delacroix in North America in the 19th century.

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