The ethnographic and orientalist diary of Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) « Album in North Africa » : work of art

The ethnographic and orientalist diary of Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) « Album in North Africa » : work of art

In vogue for Orientalism, Delacroix in 1832 for Morocco [1] since it is named official painter in the diplomatic delegation of Charles de Mornay. Four books in seven Delacroix reached us [2]: three are in the Musée du Louvre and the Museum of Condé in Chantilly, among them Album of Croze in 1855 and Charente Album in 1822. Morocco offers Delacroix ethnographic subjects are the object of his books [3], first around Tangier inspired watercolor « The Jewish Bride of Tangier, » then after thirteen days of Meknes and then crossing the Andalusia and Oran, Algiers that inspired « Women of Algiers in their Apartment » and finally Marrakech. This book brings together studies « which refers to the seventeenth century a graphical representation constituting an exercise test: general preparation or detail of the work as a whole, research graphic composition or achievements details » [4] . The two double pages sketches « Album of North Africa » [5] which represent the one hand a « crowd of Moroccans before a great door crowded court and prison door Jew and Arab horse to spring « and the other » landscape with mosque in the background and characters « deserve to be analyzed by their original composition where the handwritten notes, sketches, characters, different plans and details are juxtaposed giving and depth and a particular reading of the image. The first example provides a breakdown of page views in three successive general plan to wander outside to inside the medina, the more confused second example offers two main views embellished details and viewing angles smaller. As a camera, Delacroix guide his brush which is the culmination of his eyes staring. He argues, stops on that aspect, back, discovered wandering … are visual notes studying framing, composition, elements to bring together all the drawings in a painting workshop in rear. It seems at times that the book says « storyboard » [6], both the concept of displacement and angle of view is important, sometimes so close to the « traveling ». These books reflect a movement, a pilgrimage and an ethnographic approach that define the « carnet de voyage » as a testimony chewed on a bright background and experience exotic experienced as a trace and ethnographic encounters. The ethnographic point of view, scenes of daily life are transcribed with all the details, they deal with objects, utensils, decorative items, costumes, jewelry … watercolor studies prior to the completion of the table  » Women of Algiers « are numerous and are annotated with captions specifying colors and materials that can not appear on a simple sketch on the spot. On some pages, such as « Arab horsemen, of trees and sea in the background » [7], the text manuscript fits the drawing, overlays, blends and in the composition of the image. In line with the Brothers Goncourt, it is a travelogue where the image space that meets the writing to fit into a plastic holding immediacy, speed of execution, the immediacy of emotion and gaze. In this example, the work of Delacroix is paradoxically a completed version such as « travel diary » where neither the image nor the text prevail: they combine a course in space, moving the trip is visible in the composition of page as well as the time before and transcribed Delacroix is the creator of « travel diary » he repeated in a frenzy of discovery, research and study plastic generated by the orientalist quest impressions, sensations andemotions due to Elsewhere through an ethnographic approach.

Summary of features such as « kind Diary » launched by Delacroix :

– Wandering over journey through the landscape of the general plan specific plan (portraits meetings).

– Sketches on the spot or rough technique: speed and instantaneous experience (as a kind of camera in hand).

– Insert text in the image: visual notes accompanied by annotations on the colors, textures, light ….

– A Study Notebook artistic and visual notes to memory in order to achieve a pregnancy of the pictorial work is composed and subsequently bringing together a synthesis of many elements of the trip.

– Atmosphere of « picturesque » saved as « worthy of being painted » with ethnographic elements annotated in order to achieve the masterpiece painting workshop at a later return trip.

– Notes written on visual details: colors, decoration details, reasons, information on the sketch book is a preparatory drawing.

– The travel allows the art historian to understand the creative act of painting masterpiece: primary source, a kind of rough draft of the artist who created basically the act of inspiration, genesis of the artwork.

The ethnologist’s diary by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)

After his essays of diaries in Britanny [8] and influenced by journal of Delacroix, Gauguin left to a new « Orient », « topos » of Orientalist literature, towards the Pacific Ocean. From 1892 at Tahiti, the painter searched « The old Mahori cult » which had totally disappeared under the influence of colonization and this from  reading ‘ The travel to the islands of the Big Ocean. [9] It illustrates the watercolor story of the genesis of the world by comparing Maori Christian worship revealing his passion for the comparative history of religions. It compiles sketches of decorative arts natives or tiki sculptures, tattoos and patterns. Gauguin wrote several travel books including Noa Noa: Voyage to Tahiti [10] is the most interesting because it looks like a « watercolor novel » which describes the « New Cythera » or « island paradise » in his imaginary geography [ 11] and its return to nature

« The civilization goes gradually from me. Beginning to think I just have little hatred for my neighbor – better to love. I have all the free enjoyment of life, animal and human. escapes I fake, I enter in nature [12].  »

There is an indictment against the European culture and society and advocacy Polynesian traditions. Charles Morice, Symbolist writer, contributes to rewrite his collection of notes and decided to publish it in 1901. This first version is completed with Gauguin over the remaining two years until 1903 by a second composed of all the graphic processes that juxtaposed Victor Segalen discovers upon his arrival in Papeete shortly after his death:

« The text, which is pale brown ink complete harmony with the paper is browned here and there interrupted watercolors – mostly washed separate paper, cut, pasted. Ago traces of everything that was to this time the master of life dealing with the existence ruthless tropics – splendor of light, great effort and surrender. Noa Noa « is indeed a manuscript leather with a watercolor gouache on flat front which comprises one hundred to four Eighty-two sheets which are glued on fifty-nine watercolors and colored wood with eighteen black wood, as well as prints, photographs and documents of all kinds sometimes accompanying text written in black ink, sometimes in blue ink (1891-1893) « according to the inventory of the Department of Graphic Arts at the Louvre. [13]

According to Farid Abdelouahad [14]:

« Mixing genres and techniques, burst timing and usage rules, plenty of styles, contrasts and offsets: the creative spontaneity of Gauguin led to a revolution in visual perception. Possibilities offered by new technologies image, photography and cinema, are not unrelated to his business, which opens the way for a new field of fine arts which can express the freedom of collage heterogeneous [15].  »

The travel was born contemporary meet anthropology, ethnology and art combined and mixed race. Gauguin himself living the phenomenon of mixing through a form of acculturation that reveals its creativity, the book is an autobiographical travel to a turned ethnological research helped his meeting with the young Tahitian with whom he lives in Mataiea. Through a process of ethnologist, he uses all the graphic arts and cultural objects which he immersed himself. Its originality marked the birth of contemporary travel book as literary pictorial or graphic. Note that Delacroix is also a painter book illustrator artist most notably for « Faust » by Goethe in 1828.

[1] Delacroix, a journey of Morocco, Andalusia, Algeria. Maurice Arama. No place, 2006.

Delacroix and Morocco. Guy Dumur. Hersher, 1988. (Artsite places).

[2] The manuscript of « Album of trip to Spain, Morocco and Algeria » by Eugène Delacroix is preserved in the library of the Château de Chantilly.

[3] The journal of Delacroix. Eugène Delacroix. Verbally limited, Louvre Museum, 2005 (1-disc compact).

Anthology of the Journal. Eugène Delacroix. Thousand and One Nights, 2002 (The small collection, No. 389)

Travel to Morocco watercolors. Delacroix. Alain Daguerre Hureaux. Image Library, 2000.

Memories of a trip to Morocco. Eugène Delacroix. Gallimard, 1999 (art and artists).

[4] See Article: Study. In Dictionary of the image. Dir. Françoise Juhel. Coord.Vanoye.Vuibert Francis, 2006.

[5] page 34 and details from 35 to 37 and page 54 and details of 55-57 selected reproductions Morocco Travel: watercolors. Delacroix. Alain Daguerre Hureaux. Image Library, 2000.

[6] See Part 3 in 1.3.1. The « comic literature » (« graphic literature ») or narration image: iconotextuel album, the graphic novel or « graphic novel », or storyboard artist book?

[7] On page 48 details and 49 reproductions of selected travel in Morocco watercolors. Delacroix. Alain Daguerre Hureaux. Image Library, 2000.

[8] Book of Britain. Paul Gauguin. Before and after. Papeete, 2002.

It consists of notes synthetic inspired his paintings from 1884 to 1887.

[9] Published in 1837 and written by former consul Oceania Jacques-Antoine Moerenhout.

[10] It should contain poems of Symbolist poet Charles Morice (1860-1919).

[11] Géograhies Gauguin. Jean-François Staszack. Breal, 2003.

Gauguin traveler: Peru to the Marquesas Islands. Jean-François Staszack.Breal, 2003. Geo Solar, 2006 (culture).

[12] Noa Noa. Paul Gauguin. Before and after. Papeete, 2001.

Book Tahiti. Paul Gauguin. Before and after. Papeete, 2001.

Writer Gauguin: Noa Noa, Various things, ancient cult mahorie. Paul Gauguin. RMN, 2003 (CD) http://arts-graphiques.louvre.fr/fo/visite?srv=mtr

[14] Writer and historian of art and photography, Curator and designer who has published several anthologies of travel journals and books on photography since 1998.

[15] These wonderful travel books. Farid Abdelouhab. Reader’s Digest, 2004.p. 116.

Pascale Argod

Enseignante PRCE à l'université de Bordeaux (INSPE d'Aquitaine) et chercheuse au sein de l'équipe du MICA (2246 - Médiation, information, communication, art ) de l'université de Bordeaux Montaigne, requalifiée en SIC (2010 - 2024 par le Conseil national des universités), Docteur en sciences de l'information et de la communication.

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