Arabs Traveling, 1855
Oil on canvas
54.1 x 65.1 cm (21 5/16 x 25 5/8 inches)
Museum Appropriation Fund 35.786
Eugène Delacroix’s voyage to North Africa in 1832 had a profound influence on his artistic development. He filled numerous albums with sketches of the people and places he saw there, annotating his drawings with commentaries and with observations on color and light. Recording an excursion from Mèknes to Tangier on April 5, 1832, he described an encounter with travelers on horseback near a valley “stretching back as far as the eye can see.” The group included a veiled woman on horseback, attended by a man who restrains her steed. This encounter served as a source for Arabs Traveling, a composition that Delacroix painted in Paris more than twenty years later. Filtering the details of the original scene, he used loose brushstrokes and pure, complementary hues to create a flickering effect across the painting’s surface.