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Fryderyk Chopin

Fryderyk Chopin (Wawrynkiewicz, after Delacroix)

 

Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849)

Ludwik Wawrynkiewicz, oil on canvas, [1972], copy of a portrait by Eugène Delacroix from 1838, 420 x 350.

[Original: Louvre, Paris]

Collection: Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina, Warsaw [M/1336].

 

This is part of a double portrait of Fryderyk Chopin and George Sand. This work (oil on canvas), not extant in its original state, depicted the composer’s torso while he is playing the piano; George Sand stands behind him, listening, her crossed arms resting on the arm of an armchair, with a cigarette in her left hand and a white scarf in her right. The positioning of the figures on the portrait can be reconstructed thanks to a sketch for this portrait (Louvre, Paris). This painting has an extraordinary history. It was painted in July and August 1838 in the artist’s Paris atelier at 17 rue des Marais, Saint-Germain; a Pleyel grand piano was brought to the atelier for the portrait: ‘[…] go […] to Pleyel, the piano maker, and ask them to take from me—Delacroix, 17 rue des Marais, Saint-German—the piano that was brought there at the recommendation of Mr Chopin some two months ago. Valmont, 5 September 1838’ [E. Delacroix to Jean-Baptiste Pierret, Chopin na obczy¼nie, p. 221]. However, for reasons not entirely clear, Delacroix did not finish the portrait, and it remained in this state in his atelier until his death, in 1863. A year later, it was bought at auction by the artist Constant Dutilleux, and on his death it passed to his heirs. In the years 1865–1873, in circumstances not entirely explained, the canvas was cut into two. In the catalogue (item no. 7) of an auction of Dutilleux’s collection held on 26 March 1974, we find the portrait of Chopin alone, cut off from the double portrait. The other part of the portrait, depicting George Sand, is currently held in the Ordrupgaard Museum in Copenhagen.