Delacroix, France’s Leading French Romantic Painter, Writes to Franz Liszt’s Mistress

Signed by Eugene Delacroix

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DELACROIX, EUGENE. (1798-1863). France’s greatest Romantic painter; precursor of both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. ALS. (“E. Delacroix”). 3pp. 8vo. N.p., N.d. (“Saturday”). To Polish Princess CAROLYNE SAYN-WITTGENSTEIN, (1819-1887); longtime lover of Hungarian-born composer and pianist Franz Liszt (1811-1886). In French with translation.

“I do not know how to express the confusion I feel at this renewed attention I have received and at the kindness of our dear great artist: I reserve the right to write him regarding this subject, as well as to the cordial invitation he has extended for me to visit him in Weimar… Unfortunately my plans have changed on account that I am required to be present here for the exhibition jury and since I cannot disengage myself from being, in three or four days’ time, in the South of France, in other words at the opposite end, I will not have time to go embrace the friends I have in Strasbourg. I would have come to tell you all this if I had hoped to find you today, instead I thought of coming tomorrow, Sunday, before your dinner. The part of your letter in which you tell me when I can visit you is unfortunately a bit smudged and I cannot figure what you wrote. If I do not hear from you by then I will come by before 5pm, to leave you time to prepare your dinner. As for your invitation for Tuesday, I regret that I cannot attend since I leave Monday morning. With a thousand new expressions of … and deep respect… I shall bring you a note for Liszt that I would ask you to take care of.

 

Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein

Eugene Delacroix

Franz Liszt

Delacroix received a classical education at Paris’ Lycee Imperiale, during which time he developed a passion for music and theater and began his studies with the well-known academic painter, Baron Pierre-Narcisse Guerin. By the mid-1820s, Delacroix was regarded as a master; indeed, “the uninhibited expression of energy and movement…his fascination with violence, destruction, and the more tragic aspects of life; and the sensuous virtuosity of his colouring have helped make him one of the most fascinating and complex artistic figures of the 19th century,” (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

In 1847, Hungarian-born composer and pianist Franz Liszt (1811-1886) met the married Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein who quickly had an immense impact on his life and work, convincing him to abandon his career as a piano virtuoso and pursue composition. Having served as conductor of the Weimar court orchestra since 1843, Liszt followed the princess’ suggestion and gave up touring to settle in Weimar in 1848 and conduct the local orchestra full-time. Although she failed to obtain a divorce, the princess moved in with Liszt, and it was during this period that Liszt wrote some of his best-known compositions, including A Faust Symphony and A Symphony to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Despite a liberal taste in music, Weimar’s citizens disapproved of Liszt’s friendship with the left-wing political refugee Richard Wagner and his adulterous relationship with Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein. With the death of Weimar’s Grand Duke, Liszt’s original patron, and pressure from within the court to ban the princess from all court functions, Liszt resigned his conductor’s post in 1858, leaving Weimar to join the princess in Rome where she was seeking a divorce. The two planned to marry on Liszt’s 50th birthday but at the last minute the pope revoked his decision to grant the princess a divorce. For the next eight years Liszt remained in Rome concentrating on the composition of religious music including Die Legende von der heiligen Elisabeth and Christus. In 1865, a year after the death of the princess’ husband, Liszt took the four minor orders of the Catholic Church.

Written on the first three pages of a folded sheet and in very good condition.

Delacroix, France’s Leading French Romantic Painter, Writes to Franz Liszt’s Mistress

Signed by Eugene Delacroix


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