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Eugène Delacroix

(1798 Charenton-Saint-Maurice – 1863 Paris)

Christ with a Crown of Thorns. Etching on Chine appliqué. 16.7 x 9.9 cm. 1833. Delteil 14 II (of III); Inventaire du Fonds Français (après 1800) 14.

Eugène Delacroix turned his attention to printmaking in 1814 when he was still very young. He experimented with aqua­tint and in 1827 created one of the main early works of French lithography with his magnum opus Faust after Goethe. In 1833 he made a small group of etchings which provide an impressive demonstration of his mastery of the medium. The present very rare etching Christ with the Crown of Thorns occupies a special place among these works, given that religious motifs played only a subordinate role in the artist’s printed oeuvre.

The etching has been executed in a light, confident style and is distinguished by its concentration on essentials. Delacroix deliberately dispenses with any other protagonists, thereby heightening the drama and emotional impact of thescene. Christ is portrayed in half-length in front of a window section and appears to the crowd which has gathered. His face and upper body are illuminated by a mild light and stand out against the darkly hatched background. This small devotional picture radiates a religious intensity reminiscent of Rembrandt’s etchings. A very fine, even impression with full margins, before letters. Minor handling traces, otherwise in very good condition.

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