Eugène Delacroix’s “Sketch for The Death of Sardanapalus” is an oil painting created in 1827 that depicts the king Sardanapalus amidst chaos and destruction. Inspired by Lord Byron’s poem, the painting showcases a Romantic and Orientalist representation of ancient Assyria. The painting is currently located at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.
The main focus of the painting is a large bed draped in luxurious red fabrics with golden elephant head sculptures at its base. Sardanapalus lies on the bed with a look of contempt, overseeing the carnage happening around him. Delacroix’s use of warm colors adds to the dramatic effect and represents the exoticism or orientalist myth surrounding ancient Assyria.
As a sketch, it provides insight into Delacroix’s process as an artist and his keen attention to detail in creating his final composition. It hints at his experimentation with color and hues that add depth to the overtly violent portrayal of Assyrian culture.
Overall, “Sketch for The Death of Sardanapalus” is a stunning work of art that exemplifies Delacroix’s skill as an artist while exploring themes like excess, violence, warrior ethos, tyranny, rebellion, and cultural otherness through its imagery.