Charenton-Saint-Maurice 1798-1863 Paris
Studies for “La Justice” in the Salon du Roi, Palais Bourbon, Paris
Marked with the studio stamp, lower left, E. D. (Lugt 838a), and inscribed with notations, upper, central, and lower right
Pen and brown ink, with brown and grey wash, over graphite
10 7/16 x 16 7/16 inches
265 x 417 mm
Studio of the artist (sale: Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 17-29 February 1864,
part of either lot 251 [87 sheets] or lot 255 [35 sheets])
Roger Leybold (1896-1970), Paris, thence by descent
A. Robaut, L’Oeuvre complet de Eugène Delacroix, Paris, 1885, pp. 425-26, part of cat. nos. 1661 or 1668
Drawn circa 1835
In 1833 Delacroix received the commission to decorate the newly renovated Salon du Roi in the Palais Bourbon, the ante-room in which the king sat enthroned to receive the deputies at the opening of Parliament. Since 1795, the palace, seized from the prince de Condé, had housed the Chamber of Deputies, or as it was originally called, the Salle des Cinq-cents.¹ The palace, returned to Condé in 1814 and leased to the state by agreement, was finally purchased by the state in 1827 from Condé’s heir, the duc de Bourbon. From 1827 to 1832 the building was entirely renewed under a vast rebuilding program by the architect Jules de Joly (1788-1865). While Delacroix had competed unsuccessfully for two of the paintings commissioned to decorate the Chamber of Deputies itself, the Salon du Roi was his first state commission for a major decorative scheme, and was awarded to him by Adolphe Thiers, Minister of the Interior, on 31 August 1833 for the sum of 35,000 francs. Due to the importance of the commission, he insisted on painting the entire decorative scheme himself, except for the ornamentation, for which he hired professionals. He completed the ensemble at the beginning of 1838.
The programme, independently devised by Delacroix, consisted of four ceiling panels and four corresponding friezes dedicated to the theme of what Delacroix called the “life-forces” (forces vives) of the state: Justice, Agriculture, Industry and War. Each wall frieze surmounted two large, arched doorways flanking an arched niche in the center. Beneath the friezes were altogether eight piers dividing the room, which were painted en grisaille with monumental personifications of the rivers and seas of France.
The present sheet contains several studies for the wall frieze of Justitia, or Justice. The figure in the upper center of the sheet is a study for the allegorical figure of Justice holding a scroll, just to the left of the central arched niche. The four studies of children at the left of the drawing, and the single study of a child in the lower right, are preliminary studies for the putto to the right of the figure of Justice, above the central arched niche. The woman holding the child in the lower center is an early idea for the mother and child directly above the left arched doorway. A comparable sheet, containing several studies for the companion putto on the right of the central arched niche, is in the Louvre.²
For a thorough discussion of this commission, see L. Johnson, The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix : A Critical Catalogue (The Public Decorations and their Sketches), Oxford, 1989, vol. V, pp. 3-31.
M. Sérullaz et al., Inventaire général des dessins: Ecole française: Dessins d’Eugène Delacroix, 1798-1863, Paris, 1984, vol. 1, p. 125, cat. no. 187, illustrated.