Overview

Eugène Delacroix, France’s leading romantic painter of the first half of the 19th century, advocated the opposite aesthetic of his contemporary, Jean–Auguste–Dominique Ingres. In contrast to Ingres' controlled images that are characterized by his interests in linear purity and a finished surface, Delacroix championed the primacy of color and quick execution as expressive of the artist's imagination.

The Arabs Skirmishing in the Mountains was painted a few months before the artist's death. It harks back to Delacroix’s first and only visit to North Africa in 1832, more than 30 years before this picture was painted, an excursion that made a deep impression on him. The figures and horses are placed on a diagonal that traverses the lower right foreground plane. The action then shifts to the middle ground as a horse and rider charge towards battling Arabs in the center. The background abruptly rises into a craggy landscape, with a fortified castle and a line of mountains blending with the clouds.

The fluidity of Delacroix's brushstroke animates the composition, heightening the violence of the scene and the moment when the rider is thrown off his horse. The brilliant use of red, blue, and white forces the eye to stop at each grouping, accenting the rhythm of the battle itself. Delacroix has created a fictive battle, his work not only recalling an earlier personal experience but also stimulating the imagination of his viewers.

Inscription

lower center: Eug. Delacroix 1863.

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Sold 12 April 1863 by the artist to (Tedesco Frères, Paris).[1] Edouard André, Paris, by 1878 until at least 1885.[2] A. Smit;[3] sold 4 February 1893 to (Durand-Ruel et Cie, Paris); (Durand-Ruel et Cie, New York), December 1895; sold 6 March 1896 to Matthew Challoner Durfee Borden [1842-1912]; (his estate sale, American Art Association, New York, 14 February 1913, no. 77); (Durand-Ruel et Cie, New York);[4] sold 17 February 1913 to James J. Hill [d. 1916], St. Paul; his son, Louis W. Hill [1872-1948], St. Paul, by 1930;[5] his son, [James] Jerome Hill [1905-1972], New York and Cassis, France, by 1962;[6] purchased 15 December 1966 by NGA.

Exhibition History

1878
Tableaux anciens et modernes exposés au profit du Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais des Tuileries, Pavillon de Flore, Paris, 1878, no. 77, as Combat d'Arabes.
1885
Exposition Eugène Delacroix, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1885, no. 239B (Supplement)
1930
Centenaire du Romantisme: Exposition E. Delacroix..., Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1930, no. 199a, as Combat de Marocains (perception de l'impôt arabe)
1930
Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings, Watercolors and Prints by Eugène Delacroix, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1930, no. 45, as The Collecting of the Arabian Tax
1933
Courbet and Delacroix, Marie Harriman Gallery, New York, 1933, no. 27, as La Perception de l'Impot Arabe.
1940
Masterpieces of Art. European & American Paintings 1500-1900, New York World's Fair, 1940, no. 249, as Arab Tax Collecting.
1948
Loan Exhibition of Masterpieces by Delacroix and Renoir, Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York, 1948, no. 14, repro., as La Perception de l'impôt arabe
1958
The James J. Hill Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1958, unnumbered checklist
1962
Delacroix, The Art Gallery of Toronto and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1962-1963, no. 25, repro.
1963
Centenaire d'Eugène Delacroix, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1963, no. 527, as La Perception de l'impôt arabe
1965
Jerome Hill: Painter, Film Maker, Collector, Saint Paul Art Center, 1965, no. 178, as The Arab Tax
1979
French Romanticism, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1979, unnumbered checklist.
1984
The Orientalists: Delacroix to Matisse, The Allure of North Africa and the Near East, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1984, no. 17, repro., as The Collection of Arab Taxes.
1987
Eugène Delacroix, Kunsthaus, Zurich; Städlische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt-am-Main; Villahermosa Palace, Madrid, 1987-1988, no. 127, repro., as Le perquisition de l'impôt arabe ou Combat d'Arabes dans les montagnes
1991
Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863): Paintings, Drawings, and Prints from North American Collections, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1991, no. 14, repro.
1998
Delacroix, les dernières années, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1998-1999, no. 139, repro.
2003
Eugène Delacroix, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, 2003-2004, no. 223, repro.

Bibliography

1865
Piron, Achille. Eugène Delacroix, sa vie et ses oeuvres. Paris, 1865:111, as Perception de l'impôt arabe.
1885
Robaut, Alfred. L'Oeuvre complet de Eugène Delacroix, peintures, dessins, gravures, lithographies. Paris, 1885: no. 1448, as Perception de l'impôt arabe.
1913
Meier-Graefe, Julius. Delacroix, Beiträge zu einer Analyse. Munich, 1913:250
1916
Moreau-Nélaton, Etienne. Delacroix raconté par lui-même. 2 vols. Paris, 1916:II:207, fig. 430, as Combat de Marocains.
1922
Meier-Graefe, Julius. Delacroix. Munich, 1922:233, repro.
1929
Escholier, Raymond. Delacroix, peintre, graveur, écrivain. 3 vols. Paris, 1926-1929:III:259
1930
Hourticq, Louis. Delacroix, l'oeuvre du mâitre. Paris, 1930:181, repro.
1935
Correspondance générale de Eugène Delacroix. 5 vols. Paris, 1936-1938: IV:372.
1942
Rudrauf, Lucien. Eugène Delacroix et le problem du romantisme artistique. Paris, 1942:142
1958
David, Richard S. "The Collection of James J. Hill." The Minneapolis Institute of Art Bulletin 47, no. 2 (1958):16, 27, repro.
1963
Huyghe, Rene. Delacroix. New York, 1963:416-417, 424, 538, repro. pl. 319.
1963
Maltese, Corrado. Delacroix. Milan, 1963:179, no. 100, repro.
1966
Prideaux, Tom. The World of Delacroix, 1798-1863. New York, 1966:172, 179, repro.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 33, repro., as The Arab Tax.
1971
Serullaz, Maurice. Delacroix. New York, 1971:32, 39, 43, repro. fig. 51
1971
Trapp, Frank A. The Attainment of Delacroix. Baltimore, 1971:71
1972
Bartolatto, Luigina R. L'Opera pittorica complete di Delacroix. Milan, 1972:134, no. 805, color repro. pl. LXIV (French edition, Paris, 1975)
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 102, repro.
1979
Watson, Ross. National Gallery of Art. London, 1979: 106, pl. 92, color repro.
1980
Serullaz, Maurice. Delacroix. Milan, 1980:170-171, repro. 199, no. 480
1981
Johnson, Lee. The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix. 6 vols. Oxford, 1981:3:21, 211, n. 419, repro. pl. 227.
1982
Rosenthal, Donald. Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting, 1800-1880. Exh. cat., Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 1982: 69, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 424, no. 606, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 124, repro.
1987
Arama, Maurice. Le Maroc de Delacroix. Paris, 1987:122, repro., 215, n. 61
1987
Eitner, Lorenz. An Outline of Nineteenth Century Painting. 2 vols. New York, 1987:I:195, II:108, repro. fig.186
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 179, repro.
1997
Jobert, Barthélémy. Delacroix. Princeton, 1997: no. 133, repro.
1997
Mittler, Gene A., and Rosalind Ragans. Understanding Art. New York, 1997: 212, fig. 14-2.
1998
Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition: Romanticism, Realism, and the Nineteenth-Century World. Madison, 1998: no. 29.5, repro.
2000
Eitner, Lorenz. French Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I: Before Impressionism. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2000: 228-232, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 359, no. 295, color repro.

Conservation Notes

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