Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art: Homage to Eugène Delacroix

It hosts an exhibition celebrating the trip of this great artist to Morocco in 1832 After having exhibited numerous exhibitions devoted to great painters like Giacometti, Picasso, Braque or Matisse, the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rabat celebrates this time Eugène Delacroix. This is an unprecedented exhibition presented for the first time in the Arab world and in Africa and specially designed for Morocco, the country where the artist stayed for six months in 1832 and which inspired his work throughout his life. . “It is an exhibition that I had personally imagined before sharing with others. It allows you to discover the emotional relationship that Delacroix had with Morocco. He was one of the first ambassadors of Moroccan light and colors and the first to transmit his fascination for the richness and variety of Moroccan heritage. I am very happy to be able, with the help of the team, to put together this exhibition which was to be organized 2 years ago ”, confides Mehdi Qotbi, president of the National Museum Foundation of Morocco, during the inauguration of this exhibition. initiated in collaboration with the Musée National Eugène Delacroix (public establishment of the Louvre museum). It must be said that “Delacroix, memories of a trip to Morocco” is an exhibition celebrating this trip which marks the career of the great romantic painter. It shows in fact all the place that Morocco occupies in his work, by relying on a notion that was dear to him: memory. “Our idea is to make Delacroix memories dialogue with the works he was able to do on his trip to Morocco which lasted 6 months. During his journey, he was able to do a lot of sketches and drawings and will also buy objects that he will keep in chests. In fact, the paintings exhibited here were not painted in Morocco but were made during his career in his studio in Paris, ”explains Claire Bessède, director of the National Eugène Delacroix Museum. Thus the route of this exhibition, scheduled until October 9, 2021, shows four essential parts: “Eugène Delacroix before the trip to Morocco”, “The trip of a painter”, “Moroccan objects, travel memories ? ” and “Morocco, source of inspiration for a whole career”. Indeed, the first tells about Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). A young artist who, in a few years, gained a certain notoriety thanks to daring paintings which sometimes caused a scandal such as La Mort de Sardanapale (1827, Paris, Musée du Louvre) or La Liberté guiding the people (1830, Paris, musée du Louvre)… Many consider him to be the leader of romanticism. While Eugène Delacroix left France only once, to go to England for a few months in 1825, the trip to Morocco was undoubtedly that of his life. “Like many artists of his generation, he long dreamed of an Orient with poorly defined geographical contours. Poems by Byron, objects and textiles brought back from travel by his friends, paintings and engravings representing oriental costumes or odalisques… feed his imagination. Thus, the study of slippers like the lithograph of the Lion of the Atlas were carried out in Paris long before he envisaged a trip ”. The second presents Delacroix during the period (between January and June 1832) during which the artist accompanied the diplomatic embassy of Count de Mornay to Sultan Moulay Abd er-Rahman. “He was invited very late and his role is not to paint a country but to keep the Comte de Mornay company. Even if it is not a carefully prepared project, he seizes the opportunity to go to an Orient that he is already painting. He writes in one of his notebooks: “I thought I was dreaming. I had wanted to see the Orient so many times that I looked at them with all my eyes and hardly believed what I saw ”. (Tangier, January 24, 1832). He sees Tangier, where he arrives via Algeciras in Spain, and Meknes then leaves via Tangier, goes back to Andalusia to Cadiz and Seville, crosses the Mediterranean again to land in Algeria, Oran and Algiers, before returning to France via Toulon ”. As for the third, it presents a collection of clothing and quite diverse objects. It includes musical instruments, weapons, pear and powder horn, leather saddlebags, ceramic gargoyles and dishes, embroidered men’s clothing… “These objects followed Delacroix from workshop to workshop until his death in 1863. He did not He does not use them as decoration for the walls of his workshop but keeps them in painted chests also brought back from Morocco. For the painter, they are both travel memories and sources of inspiration even if he rarely reproduces them as they are in his paintings. They are undoubtedly for him a means of remembering his trip, the shapes and the colors that he saw ”, one indicates one. Finally, the last gives to discover paintings inspired by Morocco based on his memory. “From the Moroccan military exercises of 1832, to the Arab night camp that he carried out the year of his death in 1863, Eugène Delacroix will continue to paint paintings inspired by Morocco in his Parisian studio. He can rely on his memory but also on his memories which are ours, the drawings and the objects ”.