Hi Fans & Followers-
I just finished reading a good book that I recommend if you enjoy reading biographies, diaries, or letters of well-known artists as I do.
Several months ago I ran across this paperback edition at my favorite used bookstore and thought it would be informative as well as entertaining. And it was, especially if you are a Francophile.
The book is Eugene Delacroix – Selected Letters 1813-1863. It is edited and translated by Jean Stewart and introduced by John Russell, a scholar on the subject. It was published in 1970 by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
You may recall in January, 2009, I blogged about another book of letters, Letters to Lucien, by Camille Pissarro, which I also enjoyed.
The Delacroix book was a little intimidating at 387 pages of relatively small print, but worth the time it took to read through it. It includes letters divided chronologically as early letters, journeys to England and Morocco, maturity, and last years.
One reason I enjoyed it so much, I think, is that I knew absolutely nothing about Delacroix, so it was all new news to me and made it that much more enjoyable.
Two things stick in my mind about this book. One is how eloquent Delacroix was in his writing. I realize part of that may have come from the excellent translation, but still, it’s remarkable.
Here’s just one excerpt to give you an example in a letter to Alexandre Dumas. “You deplore, with good reason, the present trend in art. Our aims were high, once; fortunate indeed was the man who could attain them. I fear that the stature of today’s champions puts the mere thought of that beyond their reach.” (See what I mean?)
The other thing that is noteworthy are some of the famous and worldly people with whom he was friends and with whom he corresponded. In addition to Dumas, there were George Sand (with whom he had an affair), Chopin, and Balzac, to name a few.
I also found this excerpt he wrote in a letter to the editor of L’Artiste magazine to be profound. “The artistic imagination, Sir, is not a shameless hussy who accepts contempt as readily as the tumultuous applause of a theatre, who exhibits herself before an audience in order to win condescending favours. The more ardent and sincere it is, the shyer it proves. A mere trifle alarms and represses it.” (Cool, huh?)
Anyway, I thought you all might like hearing about this book and hope you have the opportunity to read it sometime.
Until next blog…