Charles VI and Odette de Champdivers Eugene Delacroix Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This charming painting was a true labour of love for a young Eugene Delacroix who produced a series of small history paintingsin 1824. He would speak highly of this painting within his journals, which were later translated.

It is hard to appreciate just how small this painting is, when we see the incredible detail that he was able to put into it. The piece is just 27cm wide and 35cm tall, making it almost a miniature piece compared to the huge canvases that he worked on in later years. In fact, the frame that is has been in for many years it actually just as wide as the artwork itself. A golden leaf finish to an elaborate design has been added to this painting and helped it to achieve an impressive sale price at auction of $139,000 at Sotheby's in 2007. Whilst it is a beautiful painting, a larger Delacroix artwork would surely have attained a much larger price, probably into the millions of dollars. It is extremely rare for his work to come up for sale on the open market, making any that do exceedingly valuable. Most are now locked down in permanent collection of major art insitutions and will likely never be considered for sale other than for some extraordinary circumstances. Many are also protected from leaving their respective nations due to cultural legislation.

The artwork was first put on display in 1832, according to the records that we have, in the exhibition titled, "Explication des ouvrages de peinture (...)exposés à la galerie du Musée Colbert" at the Musée Colbert in Paris. It was then featured at the prestigious École Nationale des Beaux-Arts around fifty years later before appearing much more frequently over the past few decades in various British and French exhibitions, most of which were entirely focused on this particular artist. There has been a growing level of cooperation between major art houses around the world in recent years, making these short term loans popular and also very helpful to art curators who would otherwise be to limited to a smaller supply of work on a particular theme or source. The artist would have been only twenty five years old at the time that he put this skillful work together and was delighted with the outcome of his series of works, with this one being amongst his favourite.

Within this composition we find Charles VI (1368-1422) who is remembered as the King of France during a turbulent period in the nation's history, which included the Hundred Years' War. His own rollercoaster reign is played out within this piece as he looks in distress and is comforted by those in his trusted circle. We see a sword in his right hand being slowly prized away from him, for his own safety, as he lurches towards a great melancholy and even suicidal thoughts. The lady alongside him is believed to be his mistress, Odette, who does her best to calm him down in thoroughly challenging circumstances. We find drama here that persists throughout his career and was a key element to the Romanticist movement. He did portray some indoor scenes such as this from time to time, but they became rarer and rarer as his career developed. Romanticism was also about wild nature and that became more of an interest to him than the interiors of grand palaces.

Charles VI and Odette de Champdivers in Detail Eugene Delacroix