During the 1840s Delacroix made three summer visits to Nohant in central France, where he stayed at the country home of his friend the writer Aurore Dudevant, better known by her pseudonym George Sand. This verdant view on the south side of the house, whose focal point is a simple stone table (or bench), was preceded by a pencil sketch that probably dates to 1842 or 1843 (Musée Carnavalet, Paris). One of Delacroix's rare pure landscapes, it was probably painted as a gift for Sand.
George Sand was the pseudonym of Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin (1804–1876), a foremost figure of the French Romantic movement. She was celebrated not only for her prolific literary output but for donning men’s clothes, smoking in public, and conducting amorous affairs outside her marriage to François Casimir Dudevant (1795–1871), a man one decade her senior whom she had wed in 1822. They had two children before separating in 1835. Sand met Delacroix in November 1834, when she sat for a portrait commissioned by her publisher (private collection; Johnson 1986, no. 223). Delacroix painted a second likeness of her in 1838 (Ordrupgaard, Charlottenlund; Johnson 1986, no. 233); it originally formed part of a double portrait with her lover Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849), which was never completed and eventually cut into two (the latter now Louvre, Paris; Johnson 1986, no. 232). Sand was raised in her grandmother’s house at Nohant in the Berry region of central France. She wrote many novels there and the house served as the setting for a number of them. Its grounds are depicted in the present view—an empty stone table (or bench) serving as the focal point—which takes in a section of the English-style garden on the south side of the house.
Delacroix visited Nohant for the first time in June 1842, and he made two further summer visits before the end of the decade, in July 1843 and August 1846. One of Delacroix’s rare pure landscapes, this painting is closely based on a vigorous pencil drawing made on site that has variously been dated 1842 and 1843 (Musée Carnavalet, Paris, D 4388; on deposit at the Musée de la Vie Romantique, Paris, D 89.230). A related drawing showing a different view is annotated "Nohant 1843" (Musée Carnavalet, D 8344; on deposit at the Musée de la Vie Romantique, D 89.74). The painting has usually been dated by scholars to 1842 or 1843, on the basis of Delacroix’s visits and these drawings, although The Met has traditionally allowed for the possibility that it was painted later in the 1840s. A further watercolor, Trees at Nohant, which is dated 1843, has also been linked to the present work (see Lee Johnson, Delacroix: An Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings, and Lithographs, [London], 1964, p. 59, no. 151, pl. 92, as in the Paul Brame collection, Paris).
Whatever the precise date of the canvas, both the existence of the study and the fact that Delacroix did not care for plein-air painting point to his having executed it in his studio. Its colors must be considered true to their subject—trees, grass, shrubbery—yet the monochromatic, luxuriantly verdant palette is unusual in Delacroix’s oeuvre, evoking the feel of the garden as much as its appearance. Although the painting is based on the drawing, it was also shaped by the twin forces of memory and imagination, which together played a key role in the artist’s creative process. As he wrote to Sand from Paris in late June 1842, following his initial visit to Nohant: "I still see you before my eyes—you and yours; at every hour of the day I follow you: I see you at table, in the garden: I see myself in that dear little study, so cool, so secluded, where from afar I thought about all that overwhelms me here." (published in Correspondance générale d’Eugène Delacroix, ed. André Joubin, Paris, 1936, vol. 2 [1838–49], p. 114; on the subject of Delacroix and his approach to landscape, see George Mras, Eugène Delacroix’s Theory of Art, Princeton, 1966, pp. 56–57, and Vincent Pomarède in Delacroix: The Late Work, Philadelphia, 2001, pp. 117–22).
It is not known when Delacroix gave this painting to George Sand. Included in the auction of her collection in 1864, it was evidently bought in and subsequently came into the possession of her son, Maurice Dudevant, or Sand (1823–1889).
[Asher Ethan Miller 2014]
Inscription: Signed (lower left): E. Delacroix
George Sand, Nohant (given to her by the artist; until at least 1864; her anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 23, 1864, no. 14, as "Jardin à Nohant," bought in?); her son, Maurice Sand (until d. 1889; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 31 and April 1, 1890, no. 33, as "Le Parc de Nohant," for Fr 1,700 to Mayer); Paul Arthur Chéramy, Paris (until 1908; cat., 1908, no. 183, ill.; sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 5–7, 1908, no. 179, as "Le Parc de Nohant, chez George Sand," for Fr 2,100 to Kelekian); [Dikran Khan Kelekian, Paris and New York, 1908–22; cat., 1920, pl. 37; his sale, American Art Association, New York, January 30–31, 1922, no. 126]
Brooklyn Museum. "Paintings by Modern French Masters, Representing the Post Impressionists and Their Predecessors," March 26–April 25, 1921, no. 88 (lent by D. G. Kelekian).
Art Institute of Chicago. "Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Prints by Eugene Delacroix 1798–1863," March 20–April 20, 1930, no. 24.
Paris. Musée du Louvre. "Centenaire du romantisme: Exposition E. Delacroix," June–September 1930, no. 209.
New York. Wildenstein. "Eugène Delacroix, 1798–1863," October 18–November 18, 1944, no. 17.
Newark Museum. "19th-Century French and American Paintings from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 9–May 15, 1946, no. 15.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Delacroix," October 1–November 8, 1964, no. 41.
Nashville. Fisk University. "100 Years of European Painting," April 28–June 10, 1965, unnum. checklist.
New York. Shepherd Gallery. "The Forest of Fontainbleau [sic], Refuge of Reality: French Landscape 1800 to 1870," April 22–June 10, 1972, no. 92.
New York. Salander-O'Reilly Galleries. "Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863), Paintings and Drawings; Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), Three Oil Sketches," November 15–December 30, 1989, no. 10.
Copenhagen. Ordrupgaard. "Delacroix: The Music of Painting," September 13–December 30, 2000, no. 41.
Frankfurt. Städel Museum. "The Painter's Garden: Design, Inspiration, Delight," November 24, 2006–March 11, 2007, no. 47.
Munich. Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus. "The Painter's Garden: Design, Inspiration, Delight," April 5–July 8, 2007, no. 47.
Paris. Musée de la Vie Romantique. "Frédéric Chopin: La Note bleue. Exposition du bicentenaire," March 2–July 11, 2010, no. 48.
Alfred Robaut. L'œuvre complet de Eugène Delacroix. Paris, 1885, no. 752bis of Robaut's personal, annotated copy, now in the Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris [see Ref. Johnson 1986].
Maurice Tourneux. Eugène Delacroix devant ses contemporains. Paris, 1886, p. 143, lists it among works included in at George Sand's sale of 1864.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Corot und Courbet: Ein Beitrag zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Modernen Malerei. Leipzig, 1905, pp. 137–38, dates it 1842 or 1843, comparing it to a landscape by Courbet also from the Chéramy collection.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Eugène Delacroix: Beiträge zu einer Analyse. Munich, 1922, ill. p. 144, dates it 1842.
Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Prints by Eugène Delacroix, 1798–1863. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1930, p. 23, no. 24, suggests a date of June 1842.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), p. 6.
René Huyghe. Delacroix. New York, 1963, p. 349, pl. 267, dates it 1842.
Gaston d'Angelis et al., ed. Delacroix. Paris, 1963, p. 158, ill., date it June 1842.
Delacroix. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1964, p. 31, no. 41, dates it 1842–43.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, p. 24, ill., tentatively date it 1843, on the basis of two studies, both dated 1843, of different parts of the garden.
Jean Bouret. L'École de Barbizon et le paysage français au XIXe siècle. Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 1972, ill. p. 135, dates it about 1843.
Luigina Rossi Bortolatto. L'opera pittorica completa di Delacroix. Milan, 1972, p. 108, no. 368, ill. p. 109, questions the identification of the subject of the picture; dates it possibly 1842.
Susan Elizabeth Strauber. "The Religious Paintings of Eugène Delacroix." PhD diss., Brown University, 1980, pp. 103, 150 n. 7, states that it may date from either June 1842 or July 1843, at both of which times Delacroix visited Sand at Nohant.
Maurice Sérullaz. Delacroix. Paris, 1981, pp. 97, 189, no. 253, ill. (color and black and white), dates it 1842 or 1843.
Lee Johnson. The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix: A Critical Catalogue. Vol. 3, Oxford, 1986, pp. 252–53, 348, 354, no. 479, dates it either 1842 or 1843.
Lee Johnson. The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix: A Critical Catalogue. Vol. 4, Oxford, 1986, pl. 281.
Eugène Delacroix. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich. Zürich, 1987, ill. p. 32, reproduces this painting, dating it 1842/43, within a reprint of "Ein halber Tag mit Eugène Delacroix," of 1841, by George Sand.
Peter Rautmann. Delacroix. Paris, 1997, p. 191, fig. 178 (color), dates it 1842–43.
Barthélémy Jobert. Delacroix. Princeton, 1998, p. 33, fig. 16 (color) [French ed., Paris, 1997], dates it 1842 or 1843.
Anne-Birgitte Fonsmark inDelacroix: The Music of Painting. Ed. Thomas Lederballe. Exh. cat., Ordrupgaard. Copenhagen, 2000, p. 19, fig. 8 (color).
Lisbet Krogslund Bertelsen and Thomas Lederballe inDelacroix: The Music of Painting. Ed. Thomas Lederballe. Exh. cat., Ordrupgaard. Copenhagen, 2000, p. 146, no. 41.
Arlette Sérullaz. "Les Delacroix de George Sand." George Sand: Une nature d'artiste. Exh. cat., Musée de la Vie Romantique. Paris, 2004, pp. 82–83, , no. 172, ill. (color), notes that it was no. 14 in the 1864 Sand sale; reproduces a related drawing in the Musée Carnavalet, Paris (no. 86).
Robert Kopp inFlower Myth: Vincent van Gogh to Jeff Koons. Exh. cat., Fondation Beyeler. Basel, 2005, p. 21 n. 20, p. 31 n. 19, p. 207 n. 21.
John House inThe Painter's Garden: Design, Inspiration, Delight. Ed. Sabine Schulze. Exh. cat., Städel Museum. Frankfurt, 2006, p. 194.
Colta Ives inUne passion pour Delacroix: La collection Karen B. Cohen. Exh. cat., Musée National Eugène Delacroix. Paris, 2009, pp. 30, 33.
Solange Thierry in Solange Thierry and Jérôme Godeau. Frédéric Chopin: La Note bleue. Exposition du bicentenaire. Exh. cat., Musée de la Vie Romantique. Paris, 2010, pp. 135–37, 198, no. 48, ill. (color, overall and detail), dates it 1842–43; reproduces a related study (p. 131).