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Basket of Flowers

Eugène Delacroix (French, Charenton-Saint-Maurice 1798–1863 Paris)

Date:
1848–49
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
42 1/4 x 56 in. (107.3 x 142.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967
Accession Number:
67.187.60
  • Gallery Label

    Given the social and political unrest in post-revolutionary Paris, Delacroix retreated to his country house, Champrosay, in September 1848. There he undertook a series of flower paintings, intended for the Salon of 1849, that he hoped would capture the variety and profusion of garden flowers. Because of the possibility of frost, he worked quickly and produced five canvases. Of these, only two satisfied him sufficiently to be included in the Salon: the present work and "Fruit on a Pedestal" (Philadelphia Museum of Art).

  • Catalogue Entry

    In September 1848 Delacroix fled the social and political unrest in Paris that followed the downfall of King Louis-Philippe by retreating to his country house south of the city at Champrosay (now incorporated into Draveil). There he undertook a series of ambitious flower paintings that he intended to exhibit at the Salon of 1849. Because of the possibility of frost as fall proceeded, he worked quickly and produced five canvases. In addition to the present work, these are Still Life with Flowers and Fruit (Philadelphia Museum of Art; Johnson no. 501), A Vase of Flowers on a Console (Musée Ingres, Montauban; Johnson no. 503), A Bed of Marguerites and Dahlias (location unknown; Johnson no. L213), and Hydrangeas and Agapanthus by a Pond (location unknown; Johnson no. L214). The Montauban picture was not finished in time for the Salon and the two lost works were withdrawn by the artist, leaving only the New York and Philadelphia paintings, which were joined by Women of Algiers in their Apartment (Musée Fabre, Montpellier; Johnson no. 382), Othello and Desdemona (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Johnson no. 291) and Syrian Arab with His Horse (private collection; Johnson no. 348).

    Delacroix’s enthusiasm for the flower paintings is palpable from his frequent marking of their progress in journal entries and letters, as well as his invitations to friends to view them in his studio before the Salon opening on June 15, 1849. On February 6, for example, he wrote to his friend Constant Dutilleux, "You were kind enough to talk to me about the flower paintings I am in the process of finishing. I have . . . subordinated the details to the whole as much as possible . . . I have tried to fashion pieces of nature, such as they present themselves to us in gardens, simply by bringing together, within the same frame and in a highly unlikely manner, the greatest possible variety of flowers" (Correspondance, vol. 2, pp. 372–73; trans. in Pomarède 2001, p. 121). As if to balance his inventiveness with a grounding in nature, on February 14, Delacroix "[h]ad a long conversation with Jussieu after dinner on the subject of flowers in connection with my pictures; I have promised to visit him in the spring. He is going to show me the greenhouses and will arrange for me to have every opportunity to study there." This is a reference to Adrien de Jussieu (1797–1853), head botanist at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, attesting to the artist’s serious application to this project. Pomarède has, moreover, described the artist’s particular motivation in carrying out these works, an effort to establish himself as a master of subjects in every genre, and "to revitalize the genre by means of a kind of realism in which stylistic convention and decoration could serve the contemplation of nature—and not the reverse" (Pomarède2001, p. 130).

    Although they were well received by critics, Delacroix never sold the flower paintings, for which he reportedly was asking 1,200 francs apiece in 1849 (Piron 1865, p. 109). He showed this work at the Salon des amis des arts de Bordeaux in 1854 (see Johnson 1986) and then again in Paris, in his triumphant retrospective at the Exposition Universelle of 1855 (installation photograph published in Trapp 1970, fig. 205). It was also included in the artist’s memorial exhibition held at Paris 1864. At the artist’s posthumous sale, a Monsieur Sourignes paid 7,750 francs for this work.

    Independent still lifes form a relatively small part of Delacroix’s output. Indeed there is a single significant precedent to Basket of Flowers and its companion works, the curious Still Life with Lobsters of 1826 (Musée du Louvre, Paris). Yet, taking a cue from the grand manner, he often included still lifes in the foregrounds of his figure paintings (for example, the Abduction of Rebecca, MMA 03.30). This sensitivity to tradition was evident to critics at the 1849 Salon: Théophile Gautier claimed that Delacroix had drawn inspiration from the Italian and Spanish tradition, as well as masterpieces by Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (1634–1699), Jan Davidz. de Heem (1606–1684), and Jan van Huysum (1682–1749). The artist’s aim of mastering and reinvigorating this genre of painting had a direct effect on his aspiring contemporaries. Shackelford (2001, pp. 23–24) has signaled this painting’s inclusion in the Paris exhibitions of 1849, 1855, and 1864 as being influential to Courbet and, in their turn, Renoir, Monet, and Bazille.

    The Metropolitan owns a pastel study for the present painting (MMA 67.187.4; Robaut no.1073).

    [2014]

  • Provenance

    the artist, Paris (until d. 1863; his estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, February 17–18, 1864, no. 88, as "Corbeille de fleurs renversée dans un parc," for Fr 7,250 to Sourigues); S. Sourigues, Paris (1864–81; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, February 28, 1881, no. 14, as "Corbeille de pavots et de chrysanthèmes," for Fr 10,300 to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, from 1881]; Vice-Admiral Bosse (in 1885); Albert Gallatin, New York (by 1936–at least 1938); [Wildenstein, New York, probably by 1944–56]; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (1956–d. 1967)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Salon. June 15–?, 1849, no. 504 (as "Fleurs").

    Bordeaux. Galerie de la société des amis des arts. "Salon des amis des arts de Bordeaux [5ème exposition]," November 12–?, 1854, no. 157 (as "Fleurs," probably this picture) [see Johnson 1986].

    Paris. Palais des Beaux-Arts. "Exposition universelle de 1855," May 15–?, 1855, no. 2941 (as "Fleurs; deux tableaux; même numéro").

    Paris. Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. "Œuvres d'Eugène Delacroix," August 13–?, 1864, no. 308 (supplement to 3rd edition) [see Johnson 1986].

    Paris. École Nationale des Beaux-Arts. "Exposition Eugène Delacroix au profit de la souscription destinée à élever à Paris un monument à sa mémoire," March 6–April 15, 1885, no. 239bis (as "Corbeille de fleurs renversée dans un parc," lent by M. le Vice-amiral Bosse) [see Johnson 1986].

    New York. Century Club. "French Masterpieces of the Nineteenth Century," January 11–February 10, 1936, no. 6 (as "Courbeille [sic] de Fleurs Renversée dans un Parc," lent by Albert Gallatin, Esq.).

    Hartford. Wadsworth Atheneum. "The Painters of Still Life," January 25–February 15, 1938, no. 57 (as "The Basket of Flowers," lent by Albert Gallatin, New York).

    New York. M. Knoedler & Co.. "Gros, Gericault, Delacroix," November 21–December 10, 1938, no. 48 (as "Basket of Flowers," lent by Albert Gallatin, Esq.).

    New York. Wildenstein. "Eugène Delacroix, 1798–1863," October 18–November 18, 1944, no. 28 (as "Basket of Flowers in a Parc [sic]," lent anonymously).

    Detroit Institute of Arts. "French Painting from David to Courbet," February 1–March 5, 1950, no. 35 (as "Still Life [Corbeille de fleurs renversées [sic] dans un parc]," lent by Wildenstein and Co., New York).

    London. Wildenstein. "Eugène Delacroix, 1798–1863," June–July 1952, no. 31 (as "A Basket of Flowers, Overturned in a Park," lent by Wildenstein & Co., New York).

    Hartford. Wadsworth Atheneum. "The Romantic Circle: French Romantic Painting, Delacroix and his Contemporaries," October 15–November 30, 1952, no. 31 (as "Basket of Flowers Overturned in a Park," lent by Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York).

    New York. Wildenstein. "Magic of Flowers in Painting," April 13–May 15, 1954, no. 12 (as "Basket with Flowers").

    New York. Perls Galleries. "Masterpieces from the Collection of Adelaide Milton de Groot," April 14–May 3, 1958, no. 1 (as "Le Panier de Fleurs [Cornucopia]").

    New York. Wildenstein. "Birth of Impressionism," March 7–April 6, 1963, no. 37 (as "Basket of Flowers in a Park," lent by Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot).

    London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Delacroix," October 1–November 8, 1964, no. 50 (as "Basket of Flowers Overturned in a Park," lent by Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York).

    New York. Wildenstein. "Romantics and Realists," April 7–May 7, 1966, no. 47 (as "Basket of Flowers," lent by Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot).

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat. (p. 74).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.

    Leningrad [St. Petersburg]. State Hermitage Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," May 22–July 27, 1975, no. 56.

    Moscow. State Pushkin Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," August 28–November 2, 1975, no. 56.

    Fort Lauderdale. Museum of Art. "Corot to Cézanne: 19th Century French Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," December 22, 1992–April 11, 1993, no catalogue.

    Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Delacroix: Les dernières années," April 7–July 20, 1998, no. 29.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Delacroix: The Late Work," September 15, 1998–January 3, 1999, no. 29.

    Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. "Eugène Delacroix," November 1, 2003–February 1, 2004, no. 154.

  • References

    Eugène Delacroix. Letter to Madame de Forget. October 3, 1848 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Correspondance générale d'Eugène Delacroix," Paris, vol. 2, 1936, p. 369], mentions his work on the five flower pictures.

    Eugène Delacroix. Letter to Monsieur Pierret. September 29, 1848 [published in A. Joubin, ed. "Correspondance générale d'Eugène Delacroix," Paris, vol. 2, 1936, p. 368], mentions his work on the five flower pictures.

    J. J. Arnoux. L'Ordre (June 16 and July 31, 1849) [see Ref. Tourneux 1886].

    L. Cailleux. "Salon de 1849." Le Temps (June 28–29, 1849) [see Ref. Johnson 1986].

    Champfleury. "Salon de 1849." La Silhouette (July 15, 1849) [repr. in J. Troubat, ed., "Oeuvres Posthumes de Champfleury: Salons 1846–1851," Paris, 1894, pp. 165–69].

    A. Dauger. "Revue des Beaux-Arts, Expositions des Tuileries." Le Pays (August 4, 1849) [see Ref. Johnson 1986].

    Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. May 8, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Journal de Eugène Delacroix," Paris, 1932, vol. 1, p. 291], comments on people visiting his studio to see the flower paintings.

    Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. March 1, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Journal de Eugène Delacroix," Paris, 1932, vol. 1, p. 266], mentions people coming to his studio to see the flower paintings.

    Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. April 3, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Journal de Eugène Delacroix," Paris, 1932, vol. 1, p. 279], mentions working on the flower pictures.

    Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. February 15, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Journal de Eugène Delacroix," Paris, 1932, vol. 1, p. 263], mentions working on this picture.

    Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. February 16, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Journal de Eugène Delacroix," Paris, 1932, vol. 1, p. 264].

    Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. February 14, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Journal de Eugène Delacroix," Paris, 1932, vol. 1, p. 262], mentions discussing the flower paintings with Jussieu.

    Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. May 14, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Journal de Eugène Delacroix," Paris, 1932, vol. 1, p. 291].

    Eugène Delacroix. Letter to Monsieur L. Riesener. June 9, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Correspondance générale d'Eugène Delacroix," Paris, vol. 2, 1936, p. 380], discusses it in the Salon.

    Eugène Delacroix. Letter to M. C. Dutilleux. February 6, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Correspondance générale d'Eugène Delacroix," Paris, vol. 2, 1936, p. 373], notes his intention to send the flower pictures to the Salon.

    Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. February 7, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed. "Journal de Eugène Delacroix," Paris, 1932, vol. 1, p. 259], mentions working on the flower paintings.

    Eugène Delacroix. Letter to Monsieur Souty. May 3, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Correspondance générale d'Eugène Delacroix," Paris, vol. 2, 1936, p. 375].

    Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. May 15, 1849 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Journal de Eugène Delacroix," Paris, 1932, vol. 1, p. 291].

    Louis Desnoyers. "Salon de 1849. Peinture." Le Siècle (July 27, 1849), p. 3.

    Théophile Gautier. "Salon de 1849 (Cinquième article)." La Presse (August 1, 1849), p. 2.

    Prosper Haussard. "Salon de 1849." Le Nation (August 7, 1849), pp. 1–2.

    L(ouis). Peisse. "Salon de 1849 (4e article)." Le Constitutionnel (July 8, 1849), pp. 1–2.

    E. Thierry. "Salon de 1849." L'Assemblé Nationale (August 29, 1849), p. 3.

    Eugène Delacroix. Letter to Dauzats. early November 1854 [published in A. Joubin, ed., "Correspondance Générale d'Eugène Delacroix," Paris, vol. 3, 1937, p. 232 n. 1], mentions that someone has just picked up two pictures from him [identified by Joubin as the "Fleurs" and the "Fruits" for the 1854 Bordeaux exhibition].

    Maxime du Camp. Les Beaux-Arts à l'Exposition Universelle de 1855. Paris, 1855, p. 112, criticizes Delacroix's compositions.

    Théophile Silvestre. Delacroix. Paris, 1855, pp. 81, 84, refers to four (rather than five) large paintings of flowers and fruit, which he dates 1848.

    Visites et Études de S.A.I. le Prince Napoléon au Palais des Beaux-Arts. Paris, 1856, p. 122.

    Amédée Cantaloube. Eugène Delacroix. Paris, 1864, pp. 39, 98, lists the works exhibited at the 1864 exhibition.

    Théophile Silvestre. Eugène Delacroix: Documents nouveaux. 1864, p. 13, refers to four large paintings of fruit and of flowers, calling two a little too somber, and the other two "d'un éclat, d'une suavité, d'une fraicheur et d'une harmonie incomparables".

    [Achille Piron]. Eugène Delacroix: sa vie et ses oeuvres. Paris, 1865, p. 109, lists four large paintings of flowers and fruits, dating them 1849; calls this work "Corbeille de Fleurs renversée dans un parc," and gives the purchaser's name and price at the 1864 atelier sale as M. Sourignes, for Fr 7,750; states that Delacroix tried unsuccessfully to sell these four pictures in 1849 for Fr 1,200 each.

    Adolphe Moreau. E. Delacroix et son œuvre. Paris, 1873, p. 184 nn. 2 and 3, p. 192 n. 1, p. 314, lists it in the 1849 Salon, but in a note erroneously identifies it with one of two works exhibited under no. 505; confuses the pictures exhibited at the 1855 Exposition Universelle; lists it in Delacroix's posthumous sale of 1864, giving the purchaser's name as Sourigues and the price as Fr 7,750.

    Alfred Robaut. L'œuvre complet de Eugène Delacroix. Paris, 1885, p. 284, no. 1072, ill. (engraving), as "Corbeille de fleurs renversée dans un parc"; dates it 1849.

    Maurice Tourneux. Eugène Delacroix devant ses contemporains. Paris, 1886, pp. 86–87, 94, lists it in the 1849 Salon, quoting several critical reviews; lists it in the 1855 Exposition Universelle.

    Étienne Moreau-Nélaton. Delacroix raconté par lui-même. Paris, 1916, vol. 2, pp. 80–81, 84, fig. 281, claims that Delacroix sent all five flower paintings to the Salon of 1849, and then removed three.

    Raymond Escholier. Delacroix: Peintre, Graveur, Écrivain. 3, Paris, 1929, p. 138.

    Alfred M. Frankfurter. "The Apostles of Romanticism: Gros, Géricault, and Delacroix." Art News 37 (November 26, 1938), p. 20, ill. p. 10.

    Ulrich Christoffel. Eugène Delacroix. Munich, 1951, pp. 129–30, fig. 68.

    Masterpieces from the Collection of Adelaide Milton de Groot. Exh. cat., Perls Galleries. New York, 1958, unpaginated, no. 1, dates it 1848.

    Lee Johnson. Delacroix. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1964, pp. 33–34, no. 50, fig. 22, dates it 1849, and states that it was no. 504 in the Salon of 1849; discusses references made by Delacroix to the five flower paintings in his journal and in a letter.

    Lee Johnson. "Eugène Delacroix et les Salons." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 16, nos. 4 and 5 (1966), pp. 226, 230 n. 27, cites the review of the 1849 Salon by Haussard [see Ref.] that led him to identify this picture as no. 504 and the Philadelphia picture (J501, R1041) as no. 505 in that exhibition.

    Frank Anderson Trapp. The Attainment of Delacroix. Baltimore, [1970], fig. 205 (photograph of installation of the Exposition Universelle of 1855).

    Luigina Rossi Bortolatto. L'opera pittorica completa di Delacroix. Milan, 1972, p. 118, no. 525, ill., dates it 1848.

    T. J. Clark. The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France 1848–1851. Greenwich, Conn., 1973, pp. 131–32, 204 n. 27, claims that Delacroix's original desire to depict the flower paintings in natural settings, with "great local divisions of line and color" did not succeed, and that Delacroix himself was disappointed with the resulting formal compositions.

    Anthony M. Clark in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965–1975. New York, 1975, p. 86, ill., claims that Delacroix originally sent all five of the flower pictures to the 1849 Salon.

    David A. Flanary. Champfleury: The Realist Writer as Art Critic. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1978, pp. 52–53, discusses Champfleury's review of the 1849 Salon.

    Lee Johnson. The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix: A Critical Catalogue. 1, Oxford, 1981, p. xxii.

    Maurice Sérullaz. Delacroix. Paris, 1981, pp. 118, 191, no. 300, ill. (color and black and white), dates it 1849.

    Mahonri Sharp Young. "Letter from the U.S.A., Bag Lady: Part II." Apollo 120 (August 1984), p. 133, fig. 5.

    Lee Johnson. The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix: A Critical Catalogue. 3, Oxford, 1986, pp. xxiii–xxiv, 261–65, 294, 349, 354, no. 502, dates it 1848–49.

    Lee Johnson. The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix: A Critical Catalogue. 4, Oxford, 1986, pl. 299.

    Roger Hurlburt. "Free Spirits." Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale) (December 20, 1992), p. 4D.

    Helen Kohen. "Lasting Impressions." Miami Herald (December 20, 1992), p. 6I.

    Vincent Pomarède in Delacroix: The Late Work. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1998, pp. 127–28, no. 29, ill. (color) [French ed., 1998, pp. 127, 129–30, no. 29, ill. (color)].

    Arlette Sérullaz in Delacroix: The Late Work. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1998, p. 19 [French ed., 1998, p. 19].

    Gilles Néret. Eugène Delacroix, 1798–1863: Le prince des romantiques. Cologne, 1999, p. 87, ill. pp. 88–89 (color), dates it 1848–49.

    Lisbet Krogslund Bertelsen and Thomas Lederballe in Delacroix: The Music of Painting. Exh. cat., Ordrupgaard. Copenhagen, 2000, pp. 146–47.

    Anne-Birgitte Fonsmark in Delacroix: The Music of Painting. Exh. cat., Ordrupgaard. Copenhagen, 2000, pp. 25–27, 29, 31, fig. 11 (color).

    George T. M. Shackelford in Eliza E. Rathbone and George T. M. Shackelford. Impressionist Still Life. Exh. cat., Phillips Collection, Washington. New York, 2001, p. 23, fig. 16 (color).

    Clare A. P. Willsdon. In the Gardens of Impressionism. New York, 2004, pp. 37–39, 280, colorpl. 35.

    Colta Ives in Une passion pour Delacroix: La collection Karen B. Cohen. Exh. cat., Musée National Eugène Delacroix. Paris, 2009, pp. 30, 161, fig. 8 (color).



  • See also
436175

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