It is at the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rabat (MMVI) that the exhibition Delacroix, memories of a trip to Morocco took place on July 7 - and until October 9, an exceptional event from all points of view, for the Moroccan cultural scene.
The exhibition retraces the trip of Eugène Delacroix to Morocco in 1832 through a selection of paintings, drawings, watercolors but also almost all the objects, clothes, weapons and musical instruments he brought back from his trip and which accompanied him throughout his career as an artist.
Like many artists of his generation, Delacroix dreamed of an Orient with poorly defined geographic contours. Byron's Poems, objects and textiles brought back from travels by friends, paintings and engravings representing oriental costumes had fed his imagination before making the trip of his life to Morocco. From his return to France, and until his death, Delacroix never ceased to reproduce in his works the many influences brought back from his trip.
Musical instruments, weapons, pear and powder horn, leather satchels, jugs, ceramic dishes and embroidered men's clothing are all objects presented in the framework of this exhibition, organized by the National Museum Foundation (FNM) and the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix - Public institution of the Louvre Museum around Delacroix's career as the first ambassador of light, colors, costumes and Moroccan traditions that he draws and paints with wonder.
Indeed, beyond the importance that Morocco had in his works, Delacroix influenced many artists who claimed to have inscribed their footsteps in his own, including Odilon Redon, Benjamin-Constant, Alfred Dehodencq, Henri Regnault and Georges Clairin then in the 20th century, Lucien Levy-Dhurmer, Théophile-Jean Delaye or even Charles Camoin.
Delacroix revolutionized the artistic scene of his time
In a speech at the occasion, the president of the FNM, Mehdi Qotbi, indicated that this exhibition will allow to discover Delacroix, "a painter who brought colors and revolutionized the artistic scene of his time" and to return on his initiatory journey in the Kingdom, which provides a key to reading and understanding a certain period in Morocco, on the historical, diplomatic and above all artistic levels.
He did not fail to underline the importance of this exhibition, which is "a source of pride" for Morocco, as well as the dynamic initiated by HM King Mohammed VI in the field of culture.
For her part, the director of the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix and co- curator of the exhibition, Claire Bessède, welcomed the "expert gaze" brought to the works of Delacroix, highlighting the effect that Morocco had on the artistic journey of a painter who marked his time.
"For more than 30 years Eugène Delacroix represents Morocco through his paintings that he made in his studio in Paris", she said, recalling that the painter was based "on his drawings, on his objects, on his memory and his memories "to bring his trip to Morocco to life.
"Delacroix is the first artist to come to Morocco", she noted, noting that through his paintings of Morocco, the painter created "a pictorial universe consistent with a quality of colors and modernity in the touch.
Eugène Delacroix in Morocco, the trip of a lifetime
Eugène Delacroix was 34 when he arrived in Morocco in 1832. He then accompanied the Comte de Mornay, who was on a diplomatic mission. He spent six months in the kingdom, between Tangier and Meknes, crossing cities like Had El Gharbia, El Ksar El Kebir or Sidi Kacem. Apart from a short stay in England, this will be the first great trip of the already renowned painter in France for La Liberté Guiding the People and The Assassination of the Bishop of Lièges, to name but a few; during the time of these works, his appetite for the Orient grew, strongly inspired by the tales of Lord Byron.
A man looks at a painting at the "Delacroix, memories of a trip to Morocco" exhibition at the Mohammed VI Museum in the capital Rabat, June 7, 2021.
"I thought I was dreaming", had launched Eugène Delacroix on his arrival in Tangier. The famous French painter undertook in 1832 a six-month initiatory trip to Morocco, retraced by an exhibition tribute to Rabat, the capital of the kingdom.
On the dazzling red-orange walls of the Mohammed VI Museum in Rabat (MMVI), around thirty paintings, drawings, engravings, lithographs and sketches offer a snorkeling dive into the Moroccan period of the master of French romanticism for the exhibition Delacroix souvenirs of a trip to Morocco, from July 7 to October 9, 2021.
"This trip nourished his work and gave it a new dimension. On his return, he will exhibit, every year, paintings evoking Morocco", explains in an interview with AFP Claire Bessède, co-curator of the exhibition and director of the Eugène Delacroix Museum in Paris.
"He had no political role; his motivation was to discover the Orient through Morocco. It's unprecedented because in his life, he only made two trips, to England and to Morocco," recalls Ms. Bessède.