Delacroix drew and painted this model several times between 1817 and 1824. The square seat, the (unpainted) support for the raised arm, and the surrounding neutral darkness all show it to be a study for its own sake. Unimpressed by the clichés of antiquity, Delacroix investigated his model’s physical appearance, paying particular attention to the mother-of-pearl sheen of her skin. A contemporary commentator on this work remarked that the young painter, striving to emulate Rubens and Rembrandt, had discovered hither to unknown planes and tones on his model and had declared to his friends that now he could paint!


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