The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople by Eugène Delacroix

Romantic artist Eugène Delacroix's The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople painting, circa 1840, about Fourth Crusade.
The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople by Eugène Delacroix (1840)

The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople, Delacroix

Self-portrait of romantic painter Eugène Delacroix circa 1837. It depicts the father of French Romantic Movement.
Self-Portrait by
Eugène Delacroix (1837)
The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople by Eugène Delacroix is an oil on canvas painting, in the collection of Louvre Museum, France. The romantic painting has originally been named “Entrée des Croisés à Constantinople” or known as “The Crusaders Entering Constantinople”. As one of the most famous painters of Romantic Era, Eugène Delacroix created the large canvas on historical context in 1840, just ten years after the July Revolution, commemorated by Liberty Leading the People painting. The depiction reveals a scene from the Fourth Crusade between the years of 1202-1204. Delacroix portrayed the crusaders entering the city of Constantinople in his early 40s. The painting commissioned by Louis-Philippe I in 1838, has been assumed as one of the contending artworks of the artist through its features evoking former art movements like exact drawing of Renaissance and lightning effects of Baroque Period. Thus, the painting is a bridge between former art styles and contemporary art of the period in 19th Century, France. Contrary to Delacroix’s most famous painting of Lady Liberty on the Barricades, The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople was a proper subject to paint on a large canvas as a historical event, due to the Academy of Fine Arts.

Historical Context for the Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople

Coronation of Baldwin I in Hagia Sophia in 1204. The Latin Emperor of Byzantine Empire that Delacroix depicts in painting.
Coronation of Baldwin I
in Hagia Sophia (1204)
The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople reveals a group of horsemen in a cavalcade. The goal of Latin Christian army gathered together by the call of Pope Innocent III, was invading the Ayyubid Sultanate of Muslim Egypt country and the Holy City Jerusalem. Yet, they deviate from the aim and sacked the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire’s capital city Constantinople. The armed force led by the Count Baldwin of Flanders and the doge of Venice, enters the city in April 12 of 1204, when the resistance has been broken. The Constantinople has been divided and shared among the leaders of the group and Count Baldwin, had been called Baldwin I of Constantinople, the head of the procession in romantic artwork. The Coronation of Baldwin I shows the crowning ceremony of the Latin Emperor of Constantinople in Hagia Sophia, 16 May 1204. The short lived Latin Empire lasted until 1261, and ended with the imperial exile due to that the city has been retaken by Michael VIII Palaiologos.

Delacroix's romantic painting The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople reveals the Latin Emperor Baldwin I on his horse
The Entry of the Crusaders
in Constantinople
Detail of Baldwin I
The Fourth Crusade was a crucial event in the world history. The Siege of Zara or The Siege of Zadar by Andrea Vicentino represents the Catholic Fourth Crusade’s attack on another Catholic city of Zara, as a armed conflict between coreligionists. The reason of this vital occurring, was the condition of Venetians, who in need of controlling the City of Zara. The Republic of Venice has offered an alliance to the Fourth Crusade that provide them fleet and a safe route for sea transportation. After Pope excommunicated the Crusaders, the Prince of Byzantine, Alexios Angelos asked the deviated army for help in the enthronement of Isaac II Angelos, his father and former emperor of Byzantine. Although the main target of all Crusaders was reaching the Jerusalem, with the help of military and financial supplies that would be provided from Constantinople. Although, a major part of Crusaders continued to the Acre City in order to reach Jerusalem, the conquest left the Byzantine Empire, poorer and more intangible for the Seljuk and Ottoman attacks, respectively. The Fourth Crusade can be seen as one of the primer causes that the Ottoman Empire conquering the city of Constantinople and partially collapsing of the Christendom in eastern cultures. As most famous cities in the world, the ancient city of Constantinople or modern day called Istanbul is a part of Turkey since October 29, 1923 when was the Turkey established.

The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople Analysis

Delacroix's romantic painting The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople reveals wearied figures lying on the ground.
The Entry of the Crusaders
in Constantinople
Detail of Wearied Figures
The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople contains a strong contrast between the background paintings and central characters. The background of the painting reveals Bosphorus of Constantinople and the Golden Horn as the primary inlet of waterway. Seas and the clouds were painted with rich tones of blue and green colors, contrary to the figures depicted dull colors at the center of the romantic work. The faces and clothes of the Crusaders are painted dark tones of muted colors for indicating their guilt and regret of what they were doing. Contrary to that, Eugène Delacroix sentimentalism is obvious about the his figures that present victims of the sack and the conquest. It is also very usual situation for the artist to engrave some of his models in different paintings. While the wearied figure lying on ground at the left side of big canvas, evokes the man with a single blue sock in Liberty Leading the People that Delacroix adapted from the failure of Hector against Achilles, in the Iliad and Odyssey by Homer. All inhabitants of the city are painted in light tones and their faces are in light, like rest of the City of Constantinople. At a closer look to the horses, the same similar chagrined expression can be seen.

Romantic painter Delacroix's The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople and Liberty Leading the People has similar figures.
Liberty Leading the People
Detail of Hector alike Man
The famous artist, as the most representative painter of French Romantic school, creates a stark contrast between the innocent folk and sinners via the use of lighting in the painting. Delacroix matches the natural beauties of the city and the people of Constantinople under the attack of mistargeted Fourth Crusade. It can be claimed that the romantic painter was very obsessed with his female figures. Delacroix’s famous paintings, The Death of Sardanapalus, Women of Algiers in their Apartment and Liberty Leading the People, also include carefully stressed woman characters in term of facial features and use of colors on the purpose of impressing the observer with dramatic details. The crusaders, or later days adoption of them as cuirassiers can be observed in Romantic Period paintings, such as Liberty Leading the People and The Wounded Cuirassier by Théodore Géricault.

The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople Historical References

The Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Veronese circa 1563, related to Delacroix's The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople.
The Wedding Feast at Cana
by Paolo Veronese (1563)
At the left side of The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople, a pair of Byzantine columns come to the forefront, as the indistinguishable architecture from earlier Roman structures. The romantic painter possibly points out one of his inspiration sources when the same architect is familiar in The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese, representational painting on biblical context. In 1860 Eugène Delacroix’s painting was copied by French impressionist Edgar Degas. The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople after Eugène Delacroix, reveals a more abstract scenery of the vital event in human history. Degas also followed the symbolism of Delacroix, who painted the knights of the Fourth Crusade in darker colors, while depicting all other elements in the painting lighter.

The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople Legacy

Orphan Girl at the Cemetery c.1823-1824, related to Eugène Delacroix's The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople.
Orphan Girl at the Cemetery
Eugène Delacroix (1823-1824)
The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople is an large oil painting with the dimensions of 498 cm x 410 cm (196 inches x 160 inches). The historical artwork shows the begging for mercy of the orthodox inhabitants of city. The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople was commissioned by Louis-Philippe I in 1838, the People King, who has been replaced by King Charles X, the last Bourbon King of France after July Revolt. It took two years the romantic artist completed his work. The large canvas has been exhibited in the Salon of 1841, after its creator finished the painting in 1840. Delacroix used the method of old master drawing and mute colors, reminding Paolo Veronese, Giovanni Bellini or Titian paintings. According to art critics, the neoclassical features of the work, echo the High Renaissance paintings and conflict with the Romantic Movement characteristics, however French poet Charles Baudelaire defined it as an “abstraction fait accompli”. The Louvre Museum has the canvas in its collection with other famous Eugène Delacroix paintings, such as The Barque of Dante, The Massacre at Chios, Orphan Girl at the Cemetery and The Sea from the Heights of Dieppe.
The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople by Eugène Delacroix The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople by Eugène Delacroix Reviewed by Articonog on January 31, 2022 Rating: 5

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