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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.


lower center: Eug. Delacroix 1863.


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
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.
Exposition Eugène Delacroix, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1885, no. 239B (Supplement)
Centenaire du Romantisme: Exposition E. Delacroix..., Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1930, no. 199a, as Combat de Marocains (perception de l'impôt arabe)
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
Courbet and Delacroix, Marie Harriman Gallery, New York, 1933, no. 27, as La Perception de l'Impot Arabe.
Masterpieces of Art. European & American Paintings 1500-1900, New York World's Fair, 1940, no. 249, as Arab Tax Collecting.
Loan Exhibition of Masterpieces by Delacroix and Renoir, Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York, 1948, no. 14, repro., as La Perception de l'impôt arabe
The James J. Hill Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1958, unnumbered checklist
Delacroix, The Art Gallery of Toronto and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1962-1963, no. 25, repro.
Centenaire d'Eugène Delacroix, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1963, no. 527, as La Perception de l'impôt arabe
Jerome Hill: Painter, Film Maker, Collector, Saint Paul Art Center, 1965, no. 178, as The Arab Tax
French Romanticism, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1979, unnumbered checklist.
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.
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
Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863): Paintings, Drawings, and Prints from North American Collections, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1991, no. 14, repro.
Delacroix, les dernières années, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1998-1999, no. 139, repro.
Eugène Delacroix, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, 2003-2004, no. 223, repro.
Piron, Achille. Eugène Delacroix, sa vie et ses oeuvres. Paris, 1865:111, as Perception de l'impôt arabe.
Robaut, Alfred. L'Oeuvre complet de Eugène Delacroix, peintures, dessins, gravures, lithographies. Paris, 1885: no. 1448, as Perception de l'impôt arabe.
Meier-Graefe, Julius. Delacroix, Beiträge zu einer Analyse. Munich, 1913:250
Moreau-Nélaton, Etienne. Delacroix raconté par lui-même. 2 vols. Paris, 1916:II:207, fig. 430, as Combat de Marocains.
Meier-Graefe, Julius. Delacroix. Munich, 1922:233, repro.
Escholier, Raymond. Delacroix, peintre, graveur, écrivain. 3 vols. Paris, 1926-1929:III:259
Hourticq, Louis. Delacroix, l'oeuvre du mâitre. Paris, 1930:181, repro.
Correspondance générale de Eugène Delacroix. 5 vols. Paris, 1936-1938: IV:372.
Rudrauf, Lucien. Eugène Delacroix et le problem du romantisme artistique. Paris, 1942:142
David, Richard S. "The Collection of James J. Hill." The Minneapolis Institute of Art Bulletin 47, no. 2 (1958):16, 27, repro.
Huyghe, Rene. Delacroix. New York, 1963:416-417, 424, 538, repro. pl. 319.
Maltese, Corrado. Delacroix. Milan, 1963:179, no. 100, repro.
Prideaux, Tom. The World of Delacroix, 1798-1863. New York, 1966:172, 179, repro.
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 33, repro., as The Arab Tax.
Serullaz, Maurice. Delacroix. New York, 1971:32, 39, 43, repro. fig. 51
Trapp, Frank A. The Attainment of Delacroix. Baltimore, 1971:71
Bartolatto, Luigina R. L'Opera pittorica complete di Delacroix. Milan, 1972:134, no. 805, color repro. pl. LXIV (French edition, Paris, 1975)
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 102, repro.
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 106, pl. 92.
Serullaz, Maurice. Delacroix. Milan, 1980:170-171, repro. 199, no. 480
Johnson, Lee. The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix. 6 vols. Oxford, 1981:3:21, 211, n. 419, repro. pl. 227.
Rosenthal, Donald. Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting, 1800-1880. Exh. cat., Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 1982: 69, repro.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 424, no. 606, color repro.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 124, repro.
Arama, Maurice. Le Maroc de Delacroix. Paris, 1987:122, repro., 215, n. 61
Eitner, Lorenz. An Outline of Nineteenth Century Painting. 2 vols. New York, 1987:I:195, II:108, repro. fig.186
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 179, repro.
Jobert, Barthélémy. Delacroix. Princeton, 1997: no. 133, repro.
Mittler, Gene A., and Rosalind Ragans. Understanding Art. New York, 1997: 212, fig. 14-2.
Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition: Romanticism, Realism, and the Nineteenth-Century World. Madison, 1998: no. 29.5, repro.
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.
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 359, no. 295, color repro.