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Charles Delaye (1793 -)

The Rising Tide

Oil on canvas

Signed lower right: Delaye

61 x 50.5 cm

A perfect example of Romantic painting, our painting depicts a scene from Walter Scott's historical novel, The Antiquarian. Charles Delaye decides to feature the most intense and dramatic moment of the book: a young Scottish woman, Miss Wardour, and her father, Sir Arthur, are prisoners of the waves in a cave. The rising tide is threatening, and the heroes fall into despair, knowing their end is near. The young woman is passed out and her father surrenders to despair.


Charles Delaye sometimes abandons his favorite genre, the landscape, for works of literary inspiration. The new sensibility of romanticism upset the subjects approached by the painting of this time. English writers like Byron, Shakespeare or Walter Scott became sources of inspiration for many painters. Walter Scott allows Delaye to expand the geographical locations of the painted landscapes, to choose tragic scenes loaded with human emotions.


The cave landscape here is full of mystery. Charles Delaye enlivens his canvas with violent contrasts of light and shadow, while playing on the touches of red in the heroes' clothes. The representation of nature reveals the characters to themselves.


This Walter Scottien subject enjoyed significant success throughout the 19th century. Camille Roqueplan treated it in Sa marée d'Equinoxe au salon in 1827 and Victor Hugo took up this tragic theme in Le Rayon Vert in 1882.

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