The J. Paul Getty Museum

Episode from "The Corsair" by Lord Byron

Object Details


Episode from "The Corsair" by Lord Byron


Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798 - 1863)




about 1831


Watercolor, brown ink, touches of gouache, over graphite underdrawing

Object Number:



24.3 × 19.2 cm (9 9/16 × 7 9/16 in.)

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Object Description

In this scene from Lord Byron's poem The Corsair, the beautiful Gulnare, a member of the Pasha's harem, visits the imprisoned corsair or pirate Conrad. They fall in love, and Gulnare eventually offers to kill the Pasha and free her beloved.

Eugène Delacroix drew and painted many subjects from Byron, in whose poems the artist found the emotional, exotic subject matter he sought. In orientalizing scenes like this one, he captured the struggles of the heart, matching his innovative use of color and loosely applied brushwork with unprecedented and controversial themes.

Delacroix exhibited this watercolor in the Salon of 1831. Having learned the watercolor technique from his British friends, he used it both for independent works of art and as a medium for sketching nature. He aptly described his approach, saying, "The special charm of watercolor, beside which any painting in oil always appears rusty and yellowed, is due to the inherent transparency of the paper."


Alfred Robaut, French, 1830 - 1909 (Paris, France) [sold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, Tableaux par Corot, Bonvin, Dutilleux, Jongkind...December 18, 1907, lot 65.]

Salon of 1831 (June to August 1831)
  • Salon, Palais du Louvre (Paris), June to August 1831
Color in Drawing (March 10 to May 24, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 10 to May 24, 1998
To Create a Living Art: 19th Century Drawings (May 1 to July 15, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 1 to July 15, 2001
Constable to Delacroix: British Art and the French Romantics (February 5, 2003 to January 4, 2004) (Catalogue by P. Noon
  • Tate Britain (London), February 5 to May 11, 2003
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis), June 8 to September 7, 2003
Recent Acquisitions in Context (August 24 to November 21, 2010)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 24 to November 21, 2010
Reading Between the Lines: Drawing Illustrations (June 4 to September 15, 2019)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 4 to September 15, 2019