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I found something snappy to do with The Women of Algiers (in Their Apartment) by Eugene Delacroix, which happened to be in media files along with several other pieces by him I have yet to use. (Hat tip to WikiPaintings homepage featured artwork for reminding me.)

Delacroix traveled to Spain and North Africa in 1832 as part of a diplomatic mission to Morocco shortly after the French conquered Algeria. He managed to sketch some women secretly in Algiers, but mostly Moslem women wouldn’t pose for him. 

The painting is notable for its sexual connotations; it depicts Algerian concubines of a harem with a hookah, used to smoke hashish or opium. In the 19th century, it was known for its sexual content and its orientalism.  The painting served as a source of inspiration to the later impressionists, and a series of 15 paintings and numerous drawings by Pablo Picasso in 1954.

The Women of Algiers (in Their Apartment) Eugene Delacroix (1834)

How much fun was that? Not much.  So I followed the lead to Pablo Picasso The Presence of the Past 1955 – 1963, a subsection on A World History of Art (dot com).  During this period, Picasso used artistic masterpieces as models for an entire series of his own variations – the Women of Algiers was the first group in this Picasso period.  

… From the outset, Picasso made changes in this basic pattern, transposing one seated figure from the original right to the left side, placing the servant in the foreground, or introducing new figures. In January 1955 his concept was in place. He could go on. Now, the composition was dominated by the polarity between a clothed woman seated at left and a nude reclining at right. The servant, turning away, and a further nude at the rear completed the group. The changes were not entirely the product of caprice; Picasso had taken the foreground grouping from a picture of odalisques by Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres.

Women of Algiers (after Delacroix) Pablo Picasso1955

Picasso Measured Against His Masters in Paris 

16 Sept. 2008 — Four famous museums of the beautiful French capital will host, from the 8th October, an exhibition, “Picasso and masters”, dedicated to the Spanish artist and his creative dialogue with masterpieces seen and appreciated by him.   The main theme of the exhibition will be the confrontation between Picassan works and masterpieces by great artists such as Courbet, David, El Greco, Goya, Rembrandt, Velàzquez, Delacroix, Ingres, Cézanne, Matisse, Manet and others from whom he drew inspiration. …

I also found the above write-up in Arcadia News Magazine on a 2008 Picasso exhibition, so between the two websites there is enough snappy material for another couple of posts. …