Eugène Delacroix presents the physician Françoise-Marie Desmaisons against the evocative backdrop of a vast, variable sky. Despite the monumental positioning of his sitter—seen dominant in half-length at the forefront of the picture plane—Delacroix conveys a mood of intimacy by breaking the formality of traditional portraiture. Desmaisons has hooked his right thumb into the armhole of his waistcoat. This casual gesture pulls the garment forward, causing the front of the waistcoat to rumple and its buttons to strain. Rather than meeting the gaze of the viewer, Desmaisons glances off to the left, as if distracted by something beyond the canvas edge. Melancholy clouds Desmaisons’s facial features, adding a mysterious dimension of inner emotion to the surface record of likeness. Painted in rich color and fluid brushstrokes, Delacroix’s portrait of Desmaisons projects a romantic spirit: the image of a fully individualized man set against a background of unlimited possibility.

From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist Eugène Delacroix, French, 1798-1863
Title
  • A Portrait of Dr. François-Marie Desmaisons
Date ca. between 1832 and 1833
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Framed: 35 × 30 5/16 × 3 1/4 inches (88.9 × 77 × 8.3 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund
Accession Number 2001.63
Department European Painting
On View Era of Revolution S331, Level 3 (see map)
Signed Signed, upper right: Eug. Delacroix.
Dr. François-Marie Desmaisons [d. 1856] (Paris, France);
possibly presented by the sitter to his mother [d. 1852] and retained by him after her death;
by descent to the sitter's brother and sole heir, Baron Jean-Jacques Pierre Desmaisons [d. 1873] (Aix-les-Bains, France);
by descent to his nephew, Charles Reymond (Turin, Italy);
until 1967, by descent to his granddaughter, Maria Buffa di Perrero;
(Galerie Heim, Paris, France);
June 21, 1983, sold by (Sotheby's, London, United Kingdom) lot 16;
private collection (USA);
by 2001, (P.&D. Colnaghi & Co., London, United Kingdom)
2001-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Paris Salon de 1833. Exh. cat. Paris, 1833, no. 634.

Gautier, T. "Salon de 1833." La France littéraire 6 (1833): p. 151.

Moreau, A. E. Delacroix et son oeuvre. Paris, 1873, pp. 173, 234.

Laviron G. and B. Galbaccio. Le Salon de 1833. Paris, 1883, p. 98, fff.

Robaut, A. L'Oeuvre complet de Eugène Delacroix. Paris, 1885, p. 103, no. 375.

Joubin, A., ed. Correspondance générale d'Eugène Delacroix. Paris, 1935-1938, vol. 1, p. 364, no. 1; vol. 5, p. 171, n. 1.

Johnson, L. "Delacroix et les Salons. Documents inédits au Louvre." Revue du Louvre 16 (1966): pp. 217-230, esp. pp. 221, 229, note 14.

Johnson, L. "Four Rediscovered Portraits by Delacroix." Burlington Magazine 112, no. 802 (January 1970): pp. 3-9, esp. pp. 8-9 (fig. 7).

Bortolatto, L. L'Opera pittorica completa di Delacroix. Milan, 1972, no. 223.

Janson, H.W. Catalogues of the Paris Salon 1673 to 1881: Paris Salon de 1833. New York, 1977, p. 46, no. 634.

Sérullaz, M. Delacroix. Milan, 1980, pp. 45, 183, cat. 132 (ill.). (as 1832-33).

Johnson, L. The Paintings of Eugène Delacroix. Oxford, 1986, vol. 3, p. 37, no. 318; vol. 4, pl. 39.

Eugène Delacroix. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich and Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut. Zürich and Frankfurt-am-Main, 1987-1988, pp. 140-141, cat. 40 (ill.).

Bulletin of the DIA: Annual Report 76, nos. 3/4 (2002): pp. 25, 27 (ill.).

Keyes, G. "Delacroix's Portrait of Doctor François-Marie Desmaisons," Bulletin of the DIA, vol. 83, no. 1/4, 2009, pp. 50-57, color repro.

Bulletin of the DIA: Notable Acquisitions, 2000–2015 89, no. 1/4 (2015): p. 12 (ill.).