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Between and Mortarboard

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Study for Cicero Accusing Verres

Accession Number

Study for Cicero Accusing Verres

Eugène Delacroix

Artist Nationality
French (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
graphite on beige laid paper

9 5/8 in x 14 15/16 in (24.45 cm x 37.94 cm);18 1/8 in x 22 1/8 in (46.04 cm x 56.2 cm)

Credit Line
The Paul Leroy Grigaut Memorial Collection

Label copy
Delacroix’s commission to decorate the ceilings of the Library of the Chambre des Députés in the Palais Bourbon provided the artist with the opportunity to create a vast ensemble of canvases that reflected on the nature of civilization and law. The paintings were executed between 1838 and 1847, and this drawing dates between 1844 and 1847. The two main hemicycles were supported by five separate cupolas representing Poetry, Theology, Philosophy, Sciences, and Legislation. The present drawing is a working sketch for one of the pendentive sections (triangular vault areas) from the cupola dedicated to Legislation. Delacroix depicts the Roman orator and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 B.C.E.), castigating the Governor of Sicily, Caius Verres, on charges of corruption and extortion. Cicero is portrayed rising from his stool to accuse Verres, who is seen seated on a dais before a crowd to the left.
The composition in this sheet shows the scene fully realized and close to the final composition. The shape of the pendentive is clearly delineated in the drawing, and its curve accentuates the deep recession into space created by the arcades of the architecture behind the figures. On the sheet the artist noted the colors to be used in the painting, as well as details that still needed to be resolved. At the lower left is a detail from Cicero’s stool, and to the right is another exploration of Cicero’s pose. Several other figural studies, now at the Louvre, exist for this painting. The economy of Delacroix’s notational practice is clearly demonstrated in this preparatory drawing—he incorporates on the sheet both the overall composition and his thoughts about specific details of the work.

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