History Painting and Narrative
Special Lecture Series 2
Legenda: Oxford, 1999
Narrating historical events was of prime political and aesthetic importance to the generation that came to the fore in France with the revolution of 1830. Delacroix’s history painting, now little discussed, reflects crucial interests of the time. The choice of the right moment to illustrate historical events was a continuing subject of concern to Delacroix, as the brief narrative explanations he wrote for the salon catalogues demonstrate. He wants his spectators to understand the chosen moment as part of a continuing narrative but also as the kernel of its historical meaning. This lecture illuminates the sense of the illustrative historical moment in Delacroix’s practice, with some reference to Sartre, Freud, and Delacroix’s contemporaries Delaroche and Isabey. History Painting and Narrative: Delacroix’s ‘Moments’ was delivered as the Zaharoff Lecture at the Taylor Institution in the University of Oxford in Autumn 1997.
Peter Brooks is Tripp Professor of Humanities and Director of the Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University. His books include The Novel of Worldliness, The Melodramatic Imagination, Reading for the Plot, Body Work, Psychoanalysis and Storytelling and World Elsewhere.