The Education of Achilles

Object Details

Title:

The Education of Achilles

Artist/Maker(s):

Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798 - 1863)

Culture:

French

Date:

1862

Medium:

Pastel

Dimensions:

30.6 x 41.9 cm (12 1/16 x 16 1/2 in.)

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"It is beautiful, even more beautiful, I believe, than the painting. I am enraptured, dear friend," wrote novelist George Sand to Eugène Delacroix in gratitude for his gift of this pastel. It was the last pastel Delacroix ever made and his last present to Sand.

Delacroix had first captured this subject--Chiron, the wisest of all centaurs, training Achilles in the art of hunting--on a corner of a curved ceiling devoted to poetry in Paris's Palais Bourbon Library, which he decorated from 1838 to 1847. On visits to Delacroix's studio twenty years later, Sand admired the new, rectangular painting of the subject the artist was working on. That canvas was promised to another admirer, so Delacroix made this nearly identical pastel for her and wrote to Sand's son, Maurice, informing him of the gift.

Highly educated in the classics, Delacroix depicted subjects from antiquity throughout his life. Like his compatriot Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Delacroix used ancient marble sculptures as his source but to entirely different effect. Ingres's figures retained the cool purity of stone, while Delacroix used movement and color to animate and integrate nude, horse, and landscape.

Provenance

Aurore Dudevant (George Sand), French, 1804 - 1876

April 23, 1864

Galerie Georges Petit, [George Sand sale, lot 40]

Khalil Bey

January 16, 1868

Hôtel Drouot, [Khalil Bey sale, lot 22)

Quincy Shaw McKean, Boston

Richard S. Davis

John R. Gaines, American, 1928 - 2005

November 17, 1986

Sotheby's (New York), [Gaines sale, lot 29]

Exhibitions
French Master Drawings (December 3, 1991 to February 16, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), December 3, 1991 to February 16, 1992
The Power of Myth: European Mythological Drawings of the 15th through the 19th Century (October 12 to December 26, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), October 12 to December 26, 1993
The Compositional Drawing from the 16th to the 19th Century (April 16 to June 30, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 16 to June 30, 1996
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
Defining Modernity: European Drawings 1800-1900 (June 5 to September 9, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 5 to September 9, 2007
Capturing Nature's Beauty: Three Centuries of French Landscapes (July 28 to November 1, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 28 to November 1, 2009
Gods and Heroes: European Drawings of Classical Mythology (November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014