A study for Christ in the Garden of Olives acquired by the Musée Delacroix


1. Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Christ in the Garden of Olives
(before restauration)
Oil on canvas - 32 x 40 cm
Paris, Musée Delacroix
Photo : Hubert Duchemin, cabinet Turquin

12/07/2007 — Acquisition — Paris, Musée Delacroix — The Musée Delacroix, which now depends on the Louvre, has just acquired from Hubert Duchemin (Cabinet Eric Turquin in Paris) a fine preliminary study for the famous Christ in the Garden of Olives in the church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis in Paris (ill. 1).

The transept of the church is decorated with three large paintings of the Simon Vouet school (two are anonymous and the third is by Jacques de Létin) representing scenes from the life of Saint Louis. A fourth had disappeared and was replaced by the Christ in the Garden of Olives (ill. 2) commissioned to Delacroix by the Prefect of the Département de la Seine in 1824 and exhibited at the Salon of 1827.


2. Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Christ in the Garden of Olives, 1824-1827
Oil on canvas - 294 x 362 cm
Paris, Eglise Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis

3. Louis Janmot (1814-1892)
Christ in the Garden of Olives, 1840
Oil on canvas -190 x 260 cm
Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts / Alain Basset


There are several studies for this work, among them a sketch and a watercolor owned by the Louvre. This signed study had until now been totally unknown, even by Alfred Robaut author of the first catalog for the artist. It shows many differences with the definitive canvas, but the general lines of the composition are already in place.

4. Octave Tassaert (1800-1874)
The Angel and
the Child

Oil on canvas maroufled on panel
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : D. Rykner

Much has been said about Delacroix’s lack of faith so as to negate any religious fervor in his church paintings. But that would be forgetting that one need not be Catholic to understand the dramatic character of Christ’s Passion. This work is in fact fundamental to religious painting in France : many artists found inspiration in it for their own version of Christ in the Garden of Olives, for example Louis Janmot (ill. 3) or for other pathos-filled themes such as The Angel and the Child by Octave Tassaert (ill. 4), a painting which was recently acquired by the Musée Fabre (News to come) where the angel is directly inspired from the work in the church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis.

Version française


Didier Rykner, jeudi 12 juillet 2007



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