The Education of Achilles 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 is believed to have been the last pastel work ever produced by Eugene Delacroix and it was given as a gift to his friend, Aurore Dudevant, though many know her under her pen name, of George Sand.

Delacroix was a highly skilled draughtsman and also someone who liked to gift personal work to his closest friends from time to time. He would often design it with the recipient in mind, such as with his painting of George Sand's Garden, that she again was no doubt delighted to receive. She worked under the pen name as a writer, fully aware of how a male name could help her to gain recognition for her work, due to the sexist nature of many elements of society during this period. Delacroix did not consciously make any decision to stop working in pastels after this point, it was purely that he would die a year later in 1863 and no later artworks in this medium from his hand have ever been recovered. We have also discovered more about the relationship between these two through correspondence that they would send to each other whilst apart, as most often their meetups would be in the summer months, when trips to the countryside would have made the most sense.

"...It is beautiful, even more beautiful, I believe, than the painting. I am enraptured, dear friend..."

George Sand

The composition that we find here refers to Chiron training Achilles in hunting techniques. Delacroix would tackle this theme several times, and repetition of content was something found elsewhere in his career. Sand had visited the artist's studio and commented on an existing painting of the same topic, but this was already promised to another, so Delacroix agreed to create this pastel version of it. The work he created is well detailed, and so he was willing to spend considerable time in treating his close friend to a wonderful gift. They spent many summers together in the French countryside and regularly visited each other, always looking to exchange creative ideas.

Classical history would impact French art across a number of different movements, though Delacroix would also call upon many different influences as well during his widely varied career. He studied English literature as part of the Romanticist movement and also would travel abroad in order to enjoy and understand other cultures, such as his period visiting North Africa. This single region alone would bring about around one hundred paintings and drawings, many of which were created after he had returned home.

The Education of Achilles in Detail Eugene Delacroix