Listening to Art

05.09: Eugène Delacroix, Street in Meknes


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Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume five, number nine: Street in Meknes by Eugène Delacroix.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

This is the third of four issues devoted to the great French painter Eugène Delacroix.

Street in Meknes was done in 1832, after a six-month trip to southern Spain and northern Africa that included a couple of weeks in March in the Moroccan city. The trip had a great effect on Delacroix. He did many paintings based on sketches made during the trip, and it changed his style for the rest of his life. As Barthélémy Jobert says in his biography Delacroix (p. 172):

Although Delacroix had already painted the Orient before he went to Morocco … he had done it only through the imagination. After 1832, as was often pointed out in his own time, he painted from what he had seen and lived…. The first and most obvious consequence [of the trip] is the increased clarity and richness of his palette, a more sophisticated use of color, and, generally, the luminous harmony that results from this.

Delacroix kept notebooks during his trip, which he filled with many sketches. About ten years later he attempted a memoir of the trip, which he left unfinished. These are all available in Journey to the Maghreb and Andalusia, 1832: The Travel Notebooks and Other Writings, translated by Michèle Hannoosh, from which I quote (p. 24), Delacroix’s characteristically thoughtful and insightful opening:

Is it possible to recount to your own satisfaction the events and varied emotions that made up a journey? Success in depicting the experience to others’ satisfaction is a matter of talent; but will the one painting those scenes, whatever talent he may have, ever find in his own picture the exact features and subtle nuances of his impressions? No person of good faith would deny the difficulty, and even the impossibility, of the task.

This is a painting, oil on canvas, 64.1 cm wide by 46.4 cm high.

Now let’s listen to Street in Meknes by Eugène Delacroix, recorded at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, in Buffalo, New York, on 16 July 2017.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Street in Meknes by Eugène Delacroix. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

For more information and links to things I’ve mentioned, please visit listeningtoart.org.

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Bibliography

All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery. “Street in Meknes.” Albright-Knox. https://www.albrightknox.org/artworks/19484-street-meknes.

Delacroix, Eugène. Journey to the Maghreb and Andalusia, 1832: The Travel Notebooks and Other Writings. Translated by Michèle Hannoosh. University Park PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2019.

Jobert, Barthélémy. Delacroix. Translated by Terry Grabar and Alexandra Bonfante-Warren. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Eugène Delacroix,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugène_Delacroix.