Lot 126
  • 126

Eugène Delacroix

300,000 - 500,000 EUR
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  • Eugène Delacroix
  • Tiger on the look-out or Growling tiger
  • Signed lower left Eug.Delacroix
  • Oil on paper laid down on panel
  • 24,7 x 39,4 cm ; 9 3/4 by 15 1/2 in.


Bonnet Collection ;
His sale, Paris, 1853, lot 8 ;
Purchased from the above by Malla ;
Sale, January 29th 1855, lot 78 ;
Purchased from the above by Van Praet ;
Bellino Collection, 1885 ;
His sale, Paris, May 20th 1892, lot 12, illustrated ;
Louis Mante Collection, 1910 ;
His sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, November 28th 1956, lot 27, illustrated ;
Entered the current family by inheritance in 2006 ;
Private collection, Monaco ;
Kept in the family since then


Société artistique des Bouches-du-Rhone, Marseille, 1852 ;
Exposition Eugène Delacroix, Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1885, n°9 ;
Beaux-Arts : Exposition centennale de l'art français (1789-1889), Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1889, n° 267 ;
Exposition de chefs-d'oeuvre de l'Ecole française : Vingt Peintres du XIXe siècle, Galerie George Petit, Paris, 1910, n°75 ; 
Eugène Delacroix, 1798-1863; loan exhibition in aid of the Quaker emergency service., Wildenstein, New York, 1944, n°26 (as lent by Wildenstein & Co., Inc.) ;
Eugène Delacroix. A loan exhibition, Phillips Memorial Gallery, Washington D.C., 1945, n°6 (as lent by Wildenstein & Co., Inc.)


Adolphe Moreau, Eugène Delacroix et son oeuvre, Paris, 1873, Tome II, p. 267, illustrated fig. 310 ;
Alfred Robaut, L'Oeuvre complet d'Eugène Delacroix, Paris, 1885, n°1058 (as executed in 1848) ;
Charles Ponsonailhe, L'exposition de l'oeuvre d'Eugène Delacroix, L'Artiste, 9th series, XXIII, Paris, 1885, p. 176 ;
Léon Roger-Milès, Vingt peintres du XIXe siècle : Chefs d'oeuvre de l'Ecole française, Paris, 1911, p. 151, illustrated p. 63 ;
Etienne Moreau-Nélaton, Delacroix raconté par lui-même, Paris, 1916, Tome II, illustrated fig. 310 ;
Raymond Escholier, La vie et l'art romantique. Delacroix, peintre, graveur, écrivain, Paris, 1927, Tome III, p. 158 ;
André Joubin, Correspondance générale de Eugène Delacroix, Tome V, supplement and table, Paris, 1938, p. 190 ;
Luigina Rossi Bortolatto, Delacroix, Tout l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1975, p. 118, n°524 ;
Lee Johnson, The Painting of Eugene Delacroix, A Critical Catalogue, Oxford, 1987, Vol. III, pp. 16-17, n°186, and Vol. IV, illustrated Planche 16


The paper is laid down on a cradled panel. The varnish on the painting is quite dirty. Two superficial varnish runs appear on the left of the composition. A minor scratch is barely visible on the left part of the painting, in the background. Two small volumes are visible on the surface : one below the tiger's jaw, the other on the right of the composition : they are due to the irregularity of the paper which was used by the artist. Under UV light, small repaints are visible alongside the borders of the composition, especially on the left, the lower side and part of the right border. Very good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This magnificent composition embodies perfectly Delacroix's talent and vigorousness as an animal painter. In 1885, Charles Ponsonailhe, writer and art critic, describes the painting : "a masterpiece in color [...] the [tiger's] clear robe, in a blond shade, is in marvellous harmony with the light-green bushes in the landscape ; also, the head is alive, frightening with a cold and calm ferocity [...]".

Professor Lee Johnson dates Tiger on the lookout circa 1852 ; Robaut rather dates it circa 1848. It is possible that Delacroix painted the composition right before the 1852 exhibition in Marseille. 

Beasts have always been one of Delacroix's themes of predilection, either isolated or staged in a momentum. Several anatomical studies of felines by Delacroix are known from his early years. Certainly inspired by his close friend, sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye, he would visit the Ménagerie of the Natural History Museum, Paris, the fair of Saint-Cloud, and other places where wild animals were shown to the public. His first works on animals were lithographs - which rarely ended in paintings, except Young Tiger playing with his mother, exhibited at the 1831 Salon and kept at the Louvre museum, Paris, and Young lioness walking, 1832, kept at the Ny Carslberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

In 1832, Delacroix travels to Morocco. The landscapes and animals he discovers are endless sources of inspiration for his future works.

From 1840 and on, the specific theme of a feline in a landscape, in action or resting, gains autonomy and a true dimension in Delacroix's œuvre. Certainly influenced by Rubens whom he copies right from the beginning of his carreer and perhaps influenced by Barye's magnificent animal sculptures, he would soon focus on rendering the beasts' attitudes with precision, painting their robe and integrating the animal in an elaborate landscape. After 1847-48, the works on the subject multiply and become, both by their quality and quantity, a "true obsession" (as Vincent Pomarède states, op. cit. pp. 77-78). In 1847, a tiger arrives at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris which explains the subject is more and more present in Delacroix's oeuvre, quite homogeneously, and yet in various manners : preying, ready to bounce, resting or asleep, couples, beasts attacking another animal (horse, snake, other beast), or humans. To capture the animals' specificity, beauty, power, cruelty, and grace, Delacroix simplifies his compositions and erases details, so the animal is integrated in the landscape with a vibrant, light touch and colors, thus creating unity and harmony.

Several paintings are comparable to Tiger on the lookout, by their composition, colors or format : Tiger drinking, kept at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut (circa 1853 ; cf. Lee Johnson n° 191 ; see fig. 2), or Tiger frightened by a snake, kept at the Kunsthalle, Hambourg (circa 1854 ; cf. Lee Johnson n° 196 ; see fig. 1).

We would like to thank the Comité Eugène Delacroix for kindly confirming the authenticity of this work in a certificate-letter dated May 3rd 2017. The certificate will be delivered to the buyer.