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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:53533
Doc. No:TL23487
Call number:‭3209251‬
Main Entry:Jennifer W. Olmsted
Title & Author:Reinventing the protagonist: Eugène Delacroix's representations of Arab menJennifer W. Olmsted
College:Northwestern University
Date:2005
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2005
Page No:373
Abstract:Recent critical analyses of Eugène Delacroix's North African œuvre have focused on its position within the French conquest of Algeria. Although scholars see a colonialist bias in his few paintings of Arab women, his imagery of men has been largely ignored. Yet during his trip to Morocco in 1832, Delacroix closely studied the Arab men he encountered, producing hundreds of sketches. After returning to France, he devoted the vast majority of his paintings with North African themes to male subjects. By attending to these images, we discover new perspectives on the relationship of Delacroix's North African œuvre to the rest of his output. Scrutiny of Delacroix's letters, notes, and manuscripts (as well as his drawings and paintings) reveals that he envisioned Moroccan men as new models for the male protagonist in history painting. Delacroix's fascination with Moroccan men evolved from his interest in Turks. In his two most important history paintings of the 1820s, Scenes from the Massacres of Chios and The Death of Sardanapalus , Delacroix based his antiheroes on Ottoman Turks. His interpretation derived from widespread representations of Turks as despotic, cruel, and bellicose in French travel accounts, essays, and literature. In Delacroix's early paintings, these antagonistic figures possess so much force and agency that they take over the role of the protagonist. Although he went to Morocco expecting to find people similar to Turks, Delacroix discovered new types of protagonists. Instead of villainous antiheroes, he found Moroccan men to be exemplars of classical dignity, soldierly masculinity, and respectable leadership. This idealized view was circumscribed by a few negative attitudes towards Arab men on Delacroix's part and was further compromised for his audience by contemporary portrayals of Arab men as defeated enemies. In addition to revising history painting by focusing on the protagonist, Delacroix used his belief that Moroccan men closely resembled the dignitaries of ancient Greece and Rome to redefine the classical, the very heart of traditional history painting. Similarly, his idealizing view of Moroccan horsemen and leaders led him to experiment with paintings that treated broad, heroic themes devoid of specific historical markers.
Subject:Communication and the arts; Arab; Delacroix, Eugene; France; Men; Orientalism; Protagonist; Art history; 0377:Art history
Added Entry:S. H. Clayson
Added Entry:Northwestern University