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Jules Elie Delaunay (1828 - 1891)

Sketch for Perseus Delivering Andromeda

Oil on canvas

Signed and annotated lower right: Elie Delaunay, Persée delivers Andromède

98 x 65 cm

Originally from Nantes, Delaunay arrived in Paris in 1846. He was presented to Hippolyte Flandrin who took him under his protection. Two years later, he entered the School of Fine Arts, and obtained the Prix de Rome in 1856.

Back in France, his career was punctuated by commissions for important sets, among which we can cite those made for the Opera, the Pantheon or even the Town Hall. He was appointed professor at the School of Fine Arts, then member of the Institute. History painter, portrait painter, landscape painter, he tries his hand at all genres.


The subject of our painting is taken from Greek mythology. Equipped with a sword and a shield on which the head of Medusa is still bloodied, Perseus, in order to deliver Andromeda, has just dealt a blow to the sea monster. In the background we can see Pegasus, the winged horse.

Even if the hero's torsion undoubtedly evokes the central figure of "the Plague in Rome" (1) this sketch, of incredible freedom, has few equivalents in the work of Delaunay. The closest, perhaps, is a gouache of the same subject kept at the Nantes museum (2). Perseus is represented there a few moments earlier, still riding. We find the same quick lines that give this feeling of great modernity. They evoke the influence of two close to the artist: Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, and Gustave Moreau.

1. Jules Elie Delaunay, The Plague in Rome, 1869, oil on canvas, Musée d'Orsay

2. Inventory n ° 6572

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