ART: Drinking the Color

In his pioneering sojourn in Morocco, Delacroix learned from its vibrant hues and patterns how to evoke a living antiquity

At the end of 1831, the French artist Eugene Delacroix did something that would change the course of his own art, and to no small degree that of French painting itself. He left Paris and went to Morocco -- an arduous journey in those days, on winter roads to Marseilles and then by naval frigate to Tangier. It was made easier by his connections. The 34-year-old painter was traveling with his friend, a French diplomat named Charles de Mornay, sent to conclude a treaty with Moulay Abd-er-Rahman, the Sultan of Morocco. (France had conquered neighboring Algeria the year before and did...

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