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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Virgin of the Sacred Heart

Théodore Gericault (French, Rouen 1791 - 1824 Paris)
The Virgin of the Sacred Heart, ca. 1820
Graphite on paper (watermark: J Wh[atman]/Turke[y mill]/1; sheet: 8 7/8 x 6 3/16 in. (22.5 x 15.7 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum, New York


Eugène Delacroix 1798-1863
La Vierge du Sacré-Coeur 1821
Lead graphite on paper 0,263 x 0,213m
Musée du Louvre département des Arts graphiques, Paris


Eugène Delacroix 1798-1863
La Vierge du Sacré-Coeur 1821
Brown ink, Lead graphite on paper 0,370 x 0,240m
Musée du Louvre département des Arts graphiques, Paris

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
La Vierge du Sacré-Cœur 1821
Oil on canvas 0,41 m x 0,27 m
Musée National Eugène Delacroix, Paris



In December 1819, Gericault received a commission from the Comte de Forbin, Director of Museums, for the Cathedral of Nantes. The theme was the Virgin of the Sacred Heart. The above is Gericault`s early sketch for the commission.

However he did not complete the commission and in 1820 secretly passed it on to his young friend, Delacroix who was to receive a payment although the signature and glory were to be that of Gericault

Delacroix was financially pressed: that was the reason for the secret deal. But in the composition he had difficulties. In 1820 he wrote to a friend:

« L'idée de ce tableau que j'ai à faire me poursuit comme un spectre. [...] tout ce que j'ai voulu chercher n'a été que misérable »

Delacroix completed the painting: The Triumph of Religion, also known as The Virgin of the Sacred Heart. It was rejected by the Cathedral of Nantes as being not inspiring enough and in 1827 was passed to the cathedral at Ajaccio.

The final composition is still in the Cathedral at Ajaccio. The above version of the painting is in Paris.