The Natchez

Artist: Eugène Delacroix (French, Charenton-Saint-Maurice 1798–1863 Paris)

Date: 1823–24 and 1835

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 35 1/2 x 46 in. (90.2 x 116.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, Gifts of George N. and Helen M. Richard and Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. McVeigh and Bequest of Emma A. Sheafer, by exchange, 1989

Accession Number: 1989.328

Description

In 1823, Delacroix began to paint this scene from Chateaubriand’s widely read Romantic novel Atala, which narrates the fate of the Natchez tribe in the wake of the French and Indian War (1754–63). After putting the canvas aside for about a decade, he finally completed the picture for the Paris Salon of 1835. In the catalogue, Delacroix provided this explanatory note: "Fleeing the massacre of their tribe, two young savages traveled up the Mississippi River. During the voyage, the woman was taken by pain of labor. The moment is that when the father holds the newborn in his hands, and both regard him tenderly."

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