About This Artwork

Eugène Delacroix
French, 1798-1863

Crouching Woman, 1827

Black and red chalk, with pastel, heightened with white chalk, over wash, on tan wove paper
246 x 314 mm

Through prior bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1990.226

Crouching Woman is one of five pastel studies for Eugène Delacroix’s monumental painting The Death of Sardanapalus (Musée du Louvre, Paris), which helped establish the artist’s reputation as the leader of the French Romantic movement. Of the few pastels that Delacroix produced, this is the only group that can be related to a single painting. Inspired by an 1821 play by the English Romantic poet Lord Byron, the canvas dramatically depicts the last king of the Assyrians. Reclining on his bed moments before his own suicide, the king gazes passively at his wives, concubines, and livestock as they are slain by his order to prevent their slaughter by the enemy army that has just defeated them. In this expressive image of one of the concubines, Delacroix convincingly captured the horror of the moment. With a sure, sweeping line, he described the rhythmic, taut posture of a figure recoiling from a blow or the stab of a knife. Although this powerful figure is significantly truncated in the final painting, the pastel provides insight into Delacroix’s creative process, and its sensual drama is representative of the Romantic period.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 315.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, "Ingres, Delacroix, Dessins, Pastels et Aquarelles," 1936, cat. 76.

New York, The Frick Collection, "From Pontormo to Seurat: Drawings Recently Acquired by The Art Institute of Chicago," April 23-July 7, 1991, n.p., cat. 37 (ill.); traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago, September 10, 1991-January 5, 1992.

The Art Institute of Chicago, August 3, 1996-January 27, 1997 (installation).

The Art Institute of Chicago, March 24, 2004-September 17, 2004 (Allerton galleries installation).

Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, "Degas and the Nude", October 9, 2011 - February 5, 2012, p. 55, fig. 61, cat. by George T. M. Shackelford, Xavier Rey, et.al.

Publication History

Germain Bazin, "Pastels de Delacroix pour le Saranapale," L'Amour de l'Art 25 (1945), p. 71 (ill.).

Jacqueline Bouchot-Saupique, "Musée du Louvre, Dernièrs Donations des 'Amis du Louvre,' au Cabinet des Dessins," Bulletins des Musées de France (December 1948), pp. 248-289.

Maurice Serullaz, Memorial de l'Exposition Eugène Delacroix (Paris, 1963), no. 101.

Lee Johnson, The Paintings of Eugène Delcroix I (Oxford, 1981), p. 120.

Maurice Serullaz, Dessins d'Eugène Delacroix I (Paris, 1984), nos. 134-136.

"Frederick Cummings, New York," Art & Auction (September 1990), p. 205.

Andrea Swanson Honore, "A Pastel Study for 'The Death of Sardanapalus' by Eugène Delacroix," The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 21:1 (1991), pp. 6-23 (ill.).

Extrait de la Gazette des Beaux-Arts (March 1991), p. 57 (ill.).

James N. Wood and Sally Ruth May, The Art Institute of Chicago: The Essential Guide (Chicago, 1993), p. 213 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago. Treasures from The Art Institute of Chicago (New York, 2000), p. 189 (ill.).

The Essential Guide (Chicago, 2009), p. 301 (ill.).

Ownership History

Bequeathed by the artist to Charles Laurent Marechal (called Marechal de Metz) (died 1887); by descent to his son, Bar-le-Duc; sold to M. Landry. Victor Decock, by 1936 [Brussels 1936]. Sold, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, May 12, 1948, Decock sale, lot 2. Private Collector, Paris; sold, Francis Briest, Paris, April 10, 1989, lot 1. Sold by Brandt Dayton, New York, to the Art Institute, 1990.

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