About This Artwork

Eugène Delacroix
French, 1798-1863

Lioness Tearing at the Chest of an Arab, 1849

Soft ground etching and roulette on cream chine, laid down on white wove paper
212 x 281 mm (plate); 350 x 490 mm (sheet)

Jane H. Gertz Memorial Fund, 1985.401

Delacroix’s Romantic fascination with the Oriental other and the savagery of nature comes to the fore in this delicate etching in which a turbaned Arab becomes a lioness’s prey. Pinioned by the lion’s mighty paws, the man no longer struggles but resigns himself to being rent asunder. The man’s eyes are in shadow while the animal’s are wide and fierce, a contrast underscoring the violence and the intimacy of the kill. Details such as the single slipper lying near the man’s foot and the cuffed short leggings emphasize his exotic origins.

Interpretive Resources

View mobile website