About this artwork

According to Delacroix’s journal, he worked on this painting in July 1847 while staying at his small house in Champrosay, just outside Paris. Delacroix had visited North Africa in 1832, and the scenes that this trip had exposed him to were to have a lasting influence on his work. There are numerous notes regarding draught players in his African journal. From a distance of over a decade, Delacroix felt that he was more able to capture the poetic aspect of exotic subjects, and not be distracted by a desire to attain absolute accuracy, which he believed was ultimately untruthful. A year after this was painted it was reproduced as a print, but with the subject altered. The setting was given as Jerusalem, and the water carrier was described as Rebecca returning from the well.

Eugene Delacroix

Eugene Delacroix

Delacroix was the foremost French painter of his day, and regarded by many as one of the last great history painters. His work displayed his highly charged romantic spirit, which he often attempted to temper with his knowledge of classical art. He expressed admiration for the great colourist painters of the Venetian Renaissance, and also drew inspiration from the work of Rubens. Delacroix believed that an artist’s work should reflect their true emotions and beliefs. His Romantic, colourful paintings were not suited to the neoclassical tastes of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, and he was barred from becoming a member until 1857. Delacroix depicted a number of historical and contemporary events, as well as literary and exotic subjects. His rebellious attitude was much admired by the Impressionists.