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Crouching Woman

Black, white, red chalk drawing of woman's back.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Black, white, red chalk drawing of woman's back.




Eugène Delacroix
French, 1798-1863

About this artwork

Crouching Woman is one of five pastel studies for Eugène Delacroix’s monumental painting The Death of Sardanapalus (1827; Musée du Louvre, Paris), which helped establish his 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.


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Prints and Drawings


Eugène Delacroix


Crouching Woman


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Black and red chalk, with pastel, heightened with white chalk, over wash, on tan wove paper


24.6 × 31.4 cm (9 11/16 × 12 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

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

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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