Wendy Sharpe on Eugène Delacroix

Part of a series of new perspectives on portraiture commissioned for Archie Plus

Eugène Delacroix

Angelica and the wounded Medoro

c.1860
oil on canvas
Purchased with assistance from the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1996

I first travelled beyond Australia in my twenties, finally seeing favourite paintings in the flesh. Nothing prepared me for Delacroix at the Louvre Museum in Paris and his enormous The death of Sardanapalus 1827, with its swirling complex composition. It was such a revelation that I later made my own half-size copy, which fills an entire wall in my lounge room.

This work, Angelica and the wounded Medoro, is so much smaller yet still full of energy– true to Delacroix’s statement that ‘a sketch with great feeling can be as expressive as the most finished product’. You can see him adjusting the poses of the figures, see him thinking with his brush. Things are unfixed and still in a state of becoming. Angelica barely has a face. She and Medoro, from two warring sides, have just met. He is wounded; she will fall in love with him while nursing him. But all that is still ahead.

The possibility of love and change in the face of suffering. In a year that has been difficult for so many, that’s what I find moving in this painting.

Wendy Sharpe, artist, always

View this work and more as part of the Gallery’s collection online