Paraphrasing Shakespeare, Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863) declared that “the ugly is beautiful!” With roiling brushwork and blaring color, Delacroix painted violent extremes of experience and tumultuous natural forces. From the outset of his career, his chosen source material ranged over the territory of human drama, from historical battles to the poems of Dante, Byron, and Goethe. In his pursuit of intensity and otherness, Delacroix also trafficked in the imagery of Orientalism—the exoticized representation of the landscapes, customs, and peoples of the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia in the Western imaginary.
Delacroix’s output in cliché-verre was limited to a single quickly sketched plate. He abandoned the process after his first attempt, declaring that he was too busy to waste his time making any more “rough sketches and hasty, careless ‘almost-theres.’”