Jewish Wedding in Morocco by Eugène Delacroix

Jewish Wedding in Morocco painting by French romantic artist Eugène Delacroix, depicts a post Hebrew marriage scene c.1839
Jewish Wedding in Morocco by Eugène Delacroix (1839)

Eugène Delacroix’s Jewish Wedding in Morocco Analysis

Women of Algiers in Their Apartment painting by French romantic Eugène Delacroix c.1834, reveals people in orientalist cloths
Women of Algiers in Their Apartment
by Eugène Delacroix (1834)
Jewish Wedding in Morocco by Eugène Delacroix is an oil on canvas preserved in the department of paintings of the Louvre Museum, together with other artistic gems, such as
The Entry of Crusaders in Constantinople, The Massacre at Chios, Women of Algiers in their Apartment. The large canvas, including an orientalist theme, clearly presents the afterward of a Hasidic wedding night in Moroccan culture, not a pre wedding party for bride and groom. The levant artwork was completed by the romantic artist in 1839 and defined as genre art among other Eugène Delacroix paintings associated with Romanticism and Orientalism.

The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople, a religious painting by French romantic and orientalist Eugène Delacroix c.1840
The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople
by Eugène Delacroix (1840)
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was born in 1798 in the Saint-Maurice district of Paris, now famous for the Charenton psychiatric hospital, as the third child of Charles-François Delacroix and Victoire Oeben. Charles-François was a French politician and served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs during the directory of Louis XVI, the last king of France before the Insurrection of 10 August 1792. Under favor of his mother’s noble lineage and father’s official duty, the romantic artist has always been in touch with aristocracy and courtiers until the French Revolution of 1830, aka the July Revolution or the Three Glorious Days.

Napoleon I on His Imperial Throne painting, the French King Bonaparte by Neoclassical Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres c.1806
Napoleon I on His Imperial Throne by
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1806)
The revolutionary painting Liberty Leading the People, is also hung in the Musée du Louvre as one of the most famous European paintings.
The historical event laid the foundation of Eugène Delacroix Orientalism because of his travels to Morocco, Algeria and Egypte, was that Napoléon Bonaparte led La Grande Armée (The Great Army) aboard L’Orient ship into the North African countries in 1798, coincidently the same year romantic painter was born. Thus oriental objects regarding Egyptian, Algerian, and Moroccan arabesque, including pre-Islamic architecture motifs, like sphinxes and the great pyramids of Giza, were known in revolutionary France before the oversea expedition of the French artisan. Then, in later decades, starting by the 1830s, right after the French army conquered Algeria and ruled the colony since 1903, the romantic painter attended many diplomatic missions in order to serve his country, and on his behalf to improve his talents, perspective and art style.

Liberty Leading the People, revolutionary painting by French romantic Eugène Delacroix c.1830, depicting the July Revolution
Liberty Leading the People
by Eugène Delacroix (1830)
Delacroix’s nephew, Charles Étienne Raymond Victor de Verninac, was also a French diplomat. He was the one who became aware of his excellent masterpiece depiction of La Marianne related to the July Revolt before its completion, together with protagonist Adolf Thiers, and the artist's close friends Louis Félix Guillemardet and Monsieur J. B. Pierret. His close relations with both the political and the art community allowed the famous painter officially visit many countries such as
Morocco, Algeria, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom on behalf of France. Therefore, Delacroix can also be seen as a diplomat besides being a painter, aquarellist, drawer, and photographer. Thus, his portrait was a commemorative reflection of the scenes the painter experienced right after a Hasidic Jewish wedding ceremony during one of these diplomatic visits. All details on the canvas are based on the artist’s memories and the descriptions in the book “Souvenir of Travels in Morocco” co-written with impressionist painter Maurice Sérullaz.

Delacroix Painting Technique in Jewish Wedding in Morocco

The Fanatics of Tangier painting, aka Convulsionists of Tangiers by French romantic artist Eugène Delacroix c.1837-1838
The Fanatics of Tangier by
Eugène Delacroix (1837-1838)
Jewish Wedding in Morocco is a middle age artwork the father of Romanticism performed.
Along with the portrayal of a Judaistic marriage, thanks to the new vision he has gained from the official visits to Eastern and Southern countries, the romantic painter created many paintings with oriental themes, such as Women of Algiers in their Apartment, The Fanatics of Tangier, The Sultan of Morocco, and The Tiger Hunt chronologically after 1830. Among these Eugène Delacroix artworks, The Death of Sardanapalus (1827) and Odalisque (1825), are two masterpieces including Orientalism in art before the 1830s, while French artist still living the Parisian life. While Sardanapalus painting depicts the Assyrian King as a heroic villain, Odalisque reveals a Parisian woman in a life scene.

The Sultan of Morocco, orientalist painting by French romantic artist Eugène Delacroix c.1845, depicting Moulay Abd al-Rahman
The Sultan of Morocco
by Eugène Delacroix (1845)
Eugène Delacroix differs from Neoclassical painters in the use of colors masterfully and painting subjects.
The French painter enriched his scenery with details from Eastern culture. Jewish Moroccan wedding musicians are in the center of the canvas, while at the same time dividing the image in half. The left side is a section reserved for women, while the male guests are depicted on the right. As a folkway, all guests have a duty to entertain the young couple by encouraging them to dance according to the Judaistic traditions. Ostentatious dresses made of colorful and layered fabrics became objects of drawing that Delacroix greatly admired. The daily dressing styles of the Muslim and Jewish people and the costumes they wore at important events such as Hebrew marriage ceremonies were incredibly striking designs for the French artist.

Eugène Delacroix's Jewish Wedding in Morocco painting, the detail of a dancing woman in oriental outfits and gold jewelry
Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Detail of Dancing Woman
Although he had many difficulties finding Muslim women to model for him due to the strict orders in the religion of Islam that order women to almost fully cover up, Delacroix was lucky for painting Jewish women due to their freer dress code and less strick rituals of Hebraism. As one of the main figures, a young woman starts to dance while walking into the middle. She wears a golden yellow top and a long black skirt, while a red ribbon is tied around her waist. While the musicians, children and other women watch this dancer carefully, she is like an average of the other female figures in the environment. With her luxury garment and golden jewels, she is a great example of what to wear to Jewish wedding in Morocco during the 19th Century.

Jewish Wedding in Morocco Delacroix Story of Jews in Africa

Portrait of Count Charles-Edgar de Mornay, a French diplomat of Louis-Philippe I, by Pierre-Joseph Dedreux-Dorcy c.1831-1832
Portrait of Count Charles-Edgar de Mornay by
Pierre-Joseph Dedreux-Dorcy (1831-1832)
Jewish Wedding in Morocco was portrayed during one of the iterant visits of
Eugène Delacroix into North Africa, together with his close friend Count Charles de Mornay, a political advisor and diplomat of Louis Philippe I, aka People King of France. The royal court passed through the Spaniards at Gibraltar, and made their way to the African continent. The Tangier city they landed is a long distance from today capital of Morocco, the Marrakesh. The romantic painter firstly met the oriental culture of Moroccan people in 1832 after a sail together with a committee of French diplomats in order to negotiate the peace treaty between the Sultan of Morocco and France. Although he could not get the chance of portraying the Moroccan Muslim women in his first 6 months trip to Africa due to their faith, which forbids them to unveil their head coverings and faces, Jews were more willing to be portrayed because of unsolid religious principles.

Portrait of Louis-Philippe I, People King of France after July Revolution by German painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter c.1841
Portrait of Louis-Philippe I by
Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1841)
As noted in a Eugène Delacroix biography by Raymond Escholier, his travel to Africa, improved the famous painter’s understanding by giving him an opportunity to see oriental people and lifestyle of the East, and a common sense for approaching different beliefs regarding Christianity and Judaism, when compared to Islam. The known existence of the Jews dates back to the existence of the Carthaginians, a Phoenician colony that ruled in present-day Tunisia from 814 BC to 146 BC. Later, they continued their lives as Ashkenazi Jews under the patronage of the Roman Empire and the Vandals. Moroccan Jews, who started to migrate to this region in 70 BC, are one of the oldest peoples of Morocco, whose origins date back to the Carthaginians and Ancient Rome.

Self-Portrait in a Green Vest of French romantic painter Eugène Delacroix c.1837, father of Romanticism and Orientalism
Self-Portrait in a Green Vest
by Eugène Delacroix (1837)
Migrations from Tunisian lands to Morocco increased with the Roman citizens’ conversion to Christianity and the discrimination made against them in the Carthaginian churches. With the 1492 Alhambra Decree, the Jews expelled from Portugal and Spain became a part of this society. Jewish community lived in this region for many years as a status-bearing segment of the society. Almost 10 years later, the official visit of the romantic painter
Eugène Delacroix, the war with France in 1844 and the region’s becoming a French colony, followed by the Spanish War in 1859, made the port country, which once enriched the Jews with trade, increasingly impoverished. In the beginning of the 20th Century, the majority of the Jews in Morocco, which was under the protection of the French Colonization, lived in rural areas due to the high taxation of the French administrations.

A photograph of first Jewish prime minister of France by Harris & Ewing, Léon Blum, related to Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Léon Blum Before 1945
by Harris & Ewing
It has been observed that the interest in French language and European cultures have increased among the Moroccan Jews of Iberian Peninsula, who took the Algerian Jews, who gained French citizenship, as an example, thanks to Léon Blum, a Jewish man who was elected the prime minister of France in 1936. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the first language spoken and adopted by the few Jews still living in Morocco is French. However, in the middle of the 20th century, the majority of Moroccan Hebrews, whose number was around 300,000, migrated to these holy lands gradually over the years with the establishment of Israel on May 14, 1948. Despite their small presence in North African countries during 21st Century, their contribution to Moroccan culture is still remembered, and a Jewish tradition, the Throne Celebration, is held every 30 July in Rabat to commemorate the great achievements Jews had reached under the reign of King Mohammed VI.

Ancient Jewish Wedding Traditions in Bible Times to Moroccan Hebrews

Jewish Ketubah manuscript, written in 1750 by Simon ben Abraham Calimani in Venice, related to Jewish Wedding in Morocco
A Jewish Ketubah dated 1750 from
Venice by Simon ben Abraham Calimani
The Jewish Wedding in Morocco depicts a post wedding celebration. Though other cultures have different habits, Hasidic Jewish marriage customs generally contain four elemental steps. The first of these is the marriage contract signed by the bride and groom with two witnesses, which is called as the Jewish ketubah signing. This document includes important details such as the wedding date, the names and ages of the bride and groom, as well as the material and moral responsibilities of the partners to each other, as well as the promise to be faithful to each other forever. The second essential object is a dome made of fabric and wood, symbolizing that the couples have entered into matrimony and will now stay under the same roof. This Jewish wedding canopy is a called huppah or a chuppah in Hebrew language. The Jewish wedding ring given to new brides in Hebrew is called “khsunh ring” or “kedushen”. The groom’s side wears kittel, a traditional suit from ancient times.

A Jewish Wedding painting by Dutch painter Jozef Israëls c.1903, oil on canvas depicting an upper class traditional marriage
A Jewish Wedding
by Jozef Israëls (1903)
This costume has short sleeves and is complemented by a white linen robe inside a jacket made of black fabric. The costumes of the young married couple and their guests are also important clues in order to understand the social dynamics. While the guest side can wear more flashy and brightly colored clothing, especially in societies such as Morocco and Algeria, the bride wears Jewish wedding dresses with sleeves. The usage of white color in both the Hebrew wedding dresses and linen robes, symbolizes the purity, honestly and the clean sheet for a new beginning according to ancient Jewish betrothal customs. The Jewish hora is another must for the bride and groom in their Hasidic wedding dresses. As
Eugène Delacroix depicted the woman in black maxi skirt in the left side of the big canvas, the wedding procession is responsible for inviting or heartening the couple to dance, and they must lead them regarding the Jewish wedding night traditions.

Daniel and Cyrus Before the Idol Bel painting by baroque painter Rembrandt van Rijn c.1633, during Dutch Golden Age
Daniel and Cyrus Before the Idol Bel
by Rembrandt van Rijn (1633)
Among all these beautiful customs and manners, there is a contrasting habit. After the destruction of Babylonian Empire circa 586 BC and the collapse of the first temple in Jerusalem, which was the only Jewish place of worship, Hasidic people were forced to emigrate from their eternal homeland. About fifty years later, when the Jews returned to the Holy Lands under the leadership of King Cyrus the Great and broke the forced exodus, they established the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The custom of Jewish plate breaking or glass breaking is a habit for remembering the destruction of the temples and to commemorate the past, as well as to show the fragility of human relationships and to advise the couple to always be understanding towards each other. The Symbolism of breaking glass at Jewish wedding also indicates that the Jews stay loyal to their ancestors by remembering this black day on their happiest day ever.

Orientalism of Jewish Wedding in Morocco Among Eugène Delacroix Artworks

The Wounded Cuirassier by romantic Théodore Géricault c.1814, defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte and La Grande Armée, Louvre Museum
The Wounded Cuirassier
by Théodore Géricault (1814)
Jewish Wedding in Morocco has the importance of being one of the leading Orientalist artworks inspired the famous contemporary artists of the age. Eugène Delacroix art style is very unique for visual arts due to the impressive background of
French painter. In the roughly eighty-year period between 1770 and 1850, Delacroix’s contemporaries, romantics such as Théodore Géricault, Eugène Devéria, and Auguste-Barthélemy Glaize, continued their habit of painting historical subjects on large canvases or murals, which was the legacy of Neoclassicism, Eugène Delacroix utilized up to date issues and rough details. From another point of view, while Delacroix’s paintings aimed to give news like a newspaper or TV for pre-republican France of 18th and 19th Centuries, he also mentioned the real problems of the people from the perspective of an artist and with his own disegno.

The Raft of the Medusa painting by French romantic Théodore Géricault c.1819, depicts shipwreck scene of French naval frigate
The Raft of the Medusa
by Théodore Géricault (1819)
Although they share the same timeline, in which the Romantic Era was on the rise and their perspectives on Orientalist Movement are quite similar, Delacroix paintings are full of confusion and ugliness, according to the critics of art community and artists inspired by the Classicism of Jacques-Louis David, such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, as they define Romanticism in art. However, the famous painter, separated from his contemporaries, was influenced by artists such as Francisco Goya, who can be considered an early romantic and representative of the Rococo or Late Baroque Period.

Self-Portrait of French Neoclassical artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres c.1859, Prix de Rome awarded Academic painter
Self-Portrait by
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
He reflected the shadow plays of the Baroque Era into the riots of colors with his own extraordinary color palette. Many rivals of him painted oriental paintings during their mastery periods, such as Ingres with The Turkish Bath and La Grande Odalisque. Although these two greatest painters of all time influenced by Egyptomania, Ingres utilized pre carved alabaster sculptures and statues for modeling women in some of his paintings, while Delacroix’s intent was always life class. He always carried a green leather sketchbook with him during his observations in Tangier streets, one of Jewish heritage sites in Morocco. Along with his memories and notes, sketch renderings for depicting people and figures were very helpful in completing the Jewish Wedding painting after this exotic marriage party resembling a 1001 nights, aka the Arabian Nights Story.

Influence of Eugène Delacroix Paintings on Futuristic Art Movements

Ancient Roman poet Ovid Among the Scythians, first version two landscape paintings by French romantic Eugène Delacroix c.1859
Ovid Among the Scythians
by Eugène Delacroix (1859)
Jewish Wedding in Morocco is an exhaustive painting containing a great number of consolidative and breakthrough details. In the field of Orientalism, Eugène Delacroix remained as a pillar among other famous contemporary painters in different eras of art, thanks to his talent of utilizing bright vibrant colors and emotions together with lavish clothings and fancy dresses with jewels, as items which indicate the Orient. The striking sense of reality in Eugène Delacroix art has greatly influenced his followers, realist and impressionist painters such as Francisco Goya, Édouard Manet and Henri Matisse, as well as more contemporary symbolists such as Edvard Munch and Pablo Picasso.

The Combat of the Giaour and Hassan, first verison of three paintings over Lord Byron's 1813 poem, by Eugène Delacroix c.1826
The Combat of the Giaour and Hassan
by Eugène Delacroix (1826)
Not only with emotional themes, but also like in Ovid Among the Scythians and The Combat of the Giaour and Hassan, he inspired the crayon art makers such as Louis René Boulanger, who was famous for his landscapes and still lifes of the French Romanticism Period. Eugène Delacroix‘s Horse Frightened by Lightning, aka White Horse Frightened by a Thunderstorm is one of them decorated with a dark theme background. Besides Louis Boulanger, the sharp contrast he created with the white stallion between the dark background, and his expressive brush strokes in time of Romantic Period, have been highly utilized and derived by landscape painters, including Caspar David Friedrich, who painted Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, as one of the most known paintings in art history regarding German Romanticism.

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, representative landscape painting by German romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich c.1818
Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog
by Caspar David Friedrich
By rebelling against the Classical Period’s understanding of painting full of near-perfect drawings and flawless figures, he aimed to evoke striking feelings about the painting subjects for observers. The famous artist is commonly accepted as the leader of French Romantic School with his numerous artworks, which dominated the Romantic Era. In the history of visual arts from the late 18th Century to the present, Eugène Delacroix not only defined his own Romanticism, but also shaped later art movements, such as Realism, Symbolism, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, respectively. It is known that Henri Matisse has also been drawn to North African countries during early 20th Century by the inspiration of Eugène Delacroix’s orientalist paintings.

Jewish Wedding in Morocco Painting Details, Violin, Saz and Tambourine

Eugène Delacroix's Jewish Wedding in Morocco painting reveals the details of two musicians with violin and orientalist guitar
Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Details of Violinist and Guitarist
Jewish Wedding in Morocco is associated with detailed painting figures and objects concerning an after party in regard to the notes of Eugène Delacroix. This is the reason we don’t see symbols resembling the scenes from a marriage, such as a traditional Jewish wedding chuppah, a couple of Jewish bride and groom, or a wedding ketubah decorated with beautiful flower bouquets and framed by gold geometric borders. The usage of custom ornaments for the hostry, and Moroccan garments with shiny jewelry for the figures, all evoke a post wedding party. In the center of the painting, three Moroccan musicians play different types of musical instruments.

Eugène Delacroix's orientalist Jewish Wedding in Morocco painting details of a tambourine player and a donation collector
Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Details of Tambourine Player
and Errand Boy
They are composed of a violinist, a guitarist and a tambourine player, companioned by a money collector. These are extremely oriental and exotic items, with their structures far from western music. The old violin player, wearing a kind of yellowish or transparent haik, held up his right hand while holding a fiddlestick. He is holding the violin fingerboard with his left hand. The back of the hands and face of the violinist are mostly depicted in dark tones due to the haik around his white headgear. This long tunic which is a local costume in Maghrib, is properly what to wear to a Moroccan wedding for a musician. The string instrument he holds is painted in natural wood color not excepting its body and violin fret, which echoes the color of modest clothing of the bearded man, and also the stripped gelabia he’s sitting on.

Eugène Delacroix's Jewish Wedding in Morocco, orientalist oil painting detail of an old moor on the right side of the canvas
Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Detail of Moor on the Right
With his long white sleeves and black vest, the violinist is a rather pastel character, although he is in the center of the picture. The guitarist holding the second stringed instrument is drawn cross legged on an oriental carpet. According to Eugène Delacroix’s notes, the body of this small guitar like instrument is very light in terms of color, however fret part starting from the guitarist’s left wrist is dark. The reason of this strict color contrast, is that the red vest man holding a baglama saz instrument, which is an asiatique, aka oriental instrument with thin strings, but not a classical guitar. The red top of snub-nosed man has brown dots on it, and a piece of his blue underwear is visible behind his neck. What makes the old guitarist distinguishable is that his face is depicted with a lighter skin tone, and with a wart on neck, however he has a barbed face similar to the violinist. 
The saz player has a little green bag, which is probably for his pieces of equipment or personal stuff, just as the violinist has a large red bag next to his feet. The man in a robe, painted dark olive green color, plays a gypsy tambourine instrument, which is also known as timbrel.

Eugène Delacroix's Jewish Wedding in Morocco painting, reveals two guests, a little kid hiding orange, and his parent
Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Details of Little Kid
and His Parent
This triangle face shape male not only differs from the other members of their music band with his percussive instrument, but also with his red head scarf, which covers his foreground. A young man in gray top and white panth is gathering tips for musicians. The donation collector wears simple clothes together with a plain black cap, which indicates he is a poor man or an unimportant part of their wedding orchestra. There exist two characters reaching their hand for the donation plate. Along with the dark silhouette behind, a light silhouette appears right across the face of the young collector and echoes the other family elder sitting in the left part of the room. As one of the brightest figures, an old man putting some coins on the plate to support the wedding ensemble. This grant is observed by an almost 10 years old kid, hiding an orange, while his parent throwing his arm around his shoulder. This depiction references Jan van Eyck
s The Arnolfini Portrait through oranges as forbidden fruit, which also symbolizes a marriage from the mythoi of Adam and Eve. Because, the Flemish painter had depicted oranges instead of apples under the window glass to point out the religious story of the creation of men.

Abraham Benchimol of Tangiers, as Jewish Guide to Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix's Jewish Wedding in Morocco painting shows detail of the bride Préciada, daughter of Abraham Benchimol
Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Detail of Préciada
Jewish Wedding in Morocco reveals two girls on the staircase adjacent to the wall side, watching the elope party and listening Jewish wedding band. One of them wears an amaranthine belt, while the other is carrying a white turban on the head. The Jewish girl of Tangiers, Prisciada (or Préciada) is adorned with a purple scarf covering her head and neck, while the other figure veiled herself with a neckerchief or turban made of white drape. Prisciada was the daughter of Abraham Benchimol, a local guide, who knew the Tangier city of this beautiful country well and accompanied Delacroix during his walks in public. Eventually, French painter was invited to this ancient Hebrew wedding ceremony on February 21 of 1832. The marriage toast was enthusiastic, as expected due to the fortune of Benchimol, a man clear of financial hardship.

Saada and Préciada, watercolor by Eugène Delacroix c.1832, family of Abraham Benchimol, related to Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Saada and Préciada by
Eugène Delacroix (1832)
Contrary to the women in the left with shiny tops and golden Jewish wedding jewelry, these two female characters have been depicted with modest outfits containing violet, black and white fabric. As well Abraham’s daughter, his wife Saada became a close friend of the famous painter. Preliminary sketches and detailed watercolor paintings of these two female models took a large place in the workbook of the artist. The reason that the Moroccan bride was depicted on stairs instead of the indoor wedding venue, could depend on various bridal customs. If Delacroix imagined the a preceding time before they solemnized the marriage with ketubah signing, Prisciada could be returning from the bath of aju mikveh meaning a Jewish baptism ritual. If it was after the marriage, she could be returning from the private room that Sephardim defines what is a yichud room.

The Birth of Venus by French History painter Alexandre Cabanel c.1863, made by virtuoso technique, depicting Aphrodite
The Birth of Venus by
Alexandre Cabanel (1863)
While the myriad guests are having a dinner together, the groom and bride spend some time together in an ornate room full of yichud room gifts and valuable articles. The French artist’s observations on Tangier streets continued after this amusing night. He took memorial notes to utilize for future works. The mutual respect between society from different religious backgrounds, made the French master feel admiration. Both Islamic and Hebrew sanctuaries have been respected by their congregations.

Venus and Mars, an Italian Renaissance painting by Sandro Botticelli c.1485, in National Gallery of Art, depicting Aphrodite
Venus and Mars by
Sandro Botticelli (1485)
As an example, Delacroix observed a Yiddish woman who took off her shoes while entering a mosque in the days he spent in the streets of Tangier. The woman’s feet remind him the charm of Aphrodite, the Roman equal of love and beauty goddess, most known from Sandro Botticelli’s Venus and Mars. While this scene was being occurred, he was probably in the mood, which Stendhal described Florence.

Symbolism of Painting Figures and Objects in Jewish Wedding in Morocco

Eugène Delacroix's Jewish Wedding in Morocco, orientalist painting detail of an old moor depicted on the left side of canvas
Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Detail of Moor on the Left
Jewish Wedding in Morocco shows some secondary characters and painting objects besides the oriental musicians and the bride in black shadow. The Moor positioned on the left is looking scunge and dispersed with his shaggy beard and loose robe combined with a light blue shirt under. There is a little child sitting next to his open slippers, while the moor turns his face away from the dancing woman before the group of musicians. Moors were defined by Christian Europeans, who derived the word from the term Mauri, which indicates the Muslim folks of Iberia, Malta and Sicily. There exist significant differences between the garments and lifestyle of Christians and Moors. However the looking and casual dresses of Jews and Moors, are pretty similar according to the portraits of Eugène Delacroix, who witnessed these Jewish wedding party favors with a European eye. Besides the slide of old Moor reminding a sandal, there are multiple houseshoes on the claret red ground. A pair of them colored maroon is in light at the lower part of the romantic painting, while another black shoe is set against the wall under the tambourine player.

Study of Babouches by French romantic Eugène Delacroix c.1823-1824, a preliminary painting for Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Study of Babouches by
Eugène Delacroix
The greatest artists from various art periods colored slippers or sandals in their oil paintings, such as The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck or Cinderella About to Try On the Glass Slipper by Richard Redgrave. Although three masterpieces belong to different art periods, the use of slippers in paintings generally points out fidelity and loyalty. As one of Delacroix’s oil on cardboard paintings, Study of Babouche Slippers, created circa 1823-1824, is one of the iconic graphic arts that he depicted an orientalist item from the ancient near east according to the western canon. This small painting, exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in recent years, was a prestudy for the slippers on the ground of the wedding party venue portrayed in the Moorish artwork.

Pre Wedding Traditions of a Jewish Wedding in Morocco

Belshazzar’s Feast painting by English romantic painter John Martin c.1820, tells the Biblical story from the Book of Daniel
Belshazzar’s Feast by
John Martin (1820)
Jewish Wedding in Morocco contains multiple clues from the ancient Hebrew marriage customs. However it stands as a portrait of an after marriage scene. According to Judaism beliefs, henna tradition is one of the Mizrahi and Sephardic pre wedding events in countries, such as Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, India, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Iran etc. Wrapping henna tattoo on the palms of bride and groom, attached with a gold coin and covered with a red ribbon, indicates the other’s wishes for prosperities and wealth. Burgundy or black henna may also be put under the bride’s shoes with the aim of preventing the young couple from invisible creatures, the Jinn in Islam related to Arabic mythology.

Belshazzar’s Feast painting by Baroque painter Rembrandt van Rijn c.1635-1638, the Biblical story from Jewish Book of Daniel
Belshazzar’s Feast by
Rembrandt van Rijn (1635-1638)
The henna custom is generally celebrated in the bridal house or the hall of the maternal grandmother. Besides traditional foods like Moroccan couscous, lamb tagines (or tajin) and Chebakia (aka Griwech or Griouech), some snacks and nuts, such as fragrant homemade biscuits, called marzipan cookies, colorful fruits and mint tea, are served on a silver mirrored tray. The mimouna, aka mofletta, which initially is a celebration food eaten one day after the Passover, might also be a part of these appetizers. As the king and queen of the night, the young bride wears a henna dress named keswa el kbira, and the groom suits a jellabiya. The guests pin jewelry on their garments.

Eugène Delacroix's Jewish Wedding in Morocco painting reveals a guest in oriental outfits, having some treats on floor table
Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Details of Guest and Treats
The white parts of her elaborate dress combined with the gold color symbolize purity. They mount an amaria, which is a wedding carriage to enter the house of brides. Contrary to Sephardic wedding customs and ethnic food, henna tradition can be implemented for new births, religious festivals and victories too. It also finds a place in the history of Mediterranean Sea countries. The Ketubah in Hebrew is a cursive handwriting practice in Aramaic language of Jesus Christ, decorated by circular shape double arches and oriental arabesque motifs. A handmade ketubah reveals numerous floral designs, and the font type is generally implemented similarly to Rashi utilized by the Jewish Talmud researchers.

The Talmud Scholars painting by Austrian artist Carl Schleicher c.1903, depicts a group of old men studying on Jewish Talmud
The Talmud Scholars by
Carl Schleicher (1903)
The traditional ketubah text is a black hand writing with a joyous and colorful frame. They are counted as official documents according to Moroccan Jewish wedding traditions, and represent being in the presence of Rabbi, which is one of the names of God. After the ketubah writing framed inside of some artificial flower arrangements, has been singed, the Jewish groom fulfills the ritual of unveiling the bride, known as bedeken ceremony. One of the nuptial blessing options in a religious marriage ceremony is the nazar amulet. The evil eye protection, also known as the Turkish eye, is for preventing the young couple from malignancy, and wishing them a healthy life, conception, kin fertility and good luck in Hebrew. These religious habits are very usual things in Moroccan Judaism; however, social mores can become distinct from each other in geographical aspects.

Jewish Wedding in Morocco Delacroix at the Met Museum Exhibition

The Battle of Nancy painting by French romantic Eugène Delacroix c.1831, the death of Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy
The Battle of Nancy by
Eugène Delacroix (1831)
Jewish Wedding in Morocco was a part of the Met Museum exhibition named after Delacroix between September 2018 and January 2019, co operated with the Parisian art museum. Some rarely seen oil canvases of the romantic artist, such as Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi, The Battle of Nancy, Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, and Medea About to Kill Her Children, were also exposed. Including the most famous artworks of Parisian bourgeoisie, 138 Delacroix prints, painting and drawing objects attributed to him, have been presented to the taste of art community in Manhattan, United States.

The Wedding at Cana painting by Italian Mannerist Paolo Veronese c.1563, Biblical story that Jesus turns water into red wine
The Wedding at Cana by
Paolo Veronese (1563)
The famous painting reflecting a Jewish ceremony after wedding had also been exhibited at
Salon Carré and Salon of 1841 of Paris after its creation. The inspiration source of the depictions from this memorial ceremony, can be retraced to Renaissance paintings. Delacroix’s masterwork takes one of its influences from The Wedding Feast at Cana, one of the most famous art pieces in the world, along with the notes from French artist’s exotic trip to Africa. Eugène Delacroix was advanced in Classicism and perfect drawing before his romantic aspiration, as the pupil of Pierre Guérin’s Parisian art studio.

Romantic Eugène Delacroix's orientalist Jewish Wedding in Morocco painting showing a couple superficial guests on top floor
Jewish Wedding in Morocco
Detail of Guests on Top Floor
Although Mannerist Paolo Veronese’s The Wedding at Cana painting over a biblical story, belongs to the Western art in context, Delacroix’s wedding portrait orients a geography, which has been classified as barbaric by the time, from a European perspective. He has not only shaped the romanticism definition, but has also been a heroic character, who advocated the sentimental values like racial equality and fraternity.
Eugène’s chef-doeuvre bears the traces of futurism with its avant-garde details. While the room is full of light blue and yellow reflections due to the sunlight leaking from the open top, some superficial drawings are falling into place.

A Basket of Fruit in a Flower Garden c.1849, an impressionist style still life painting by French romantic Eugène Delacroix
A Basket of Fruit
in a Flower Garden
by Eugène Delacroix (1849)
The top floor divided into two separate parts by a little green window and a red candle, reveals some people, who could not find themselves a place in the main hall. These figures are not depicted clearly in terms of their facial features and wedding guest dresses as well. The two of them with concealed faces, are directly rapping down from the upstairs to observe the regale. It means that Eugène Delacroix did not want to attribute a significant meaning to these secondary characters. However he had paid utmost attention to make the use of light natural according to the physical condition of the building and reflections of the sunlight. Sort of unbalanced paintings, distorted pictures, or blurred faces in abstract art images, are highly utilized by 20th Century artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí, and Paul Cézanne etc.

A still life painting, Lilacs c.1885 by Parisian post-impressionist Paul Gauguin, known for landscapes and French avant-garde
Lilacs by Paul Gauguin (1885)
Before the 20th Century, Théodore Géricault, best known for The Raft of the Medusa, was a colleague and a fellow of the romantic master. He shared many progressive ideas about the range of colors. With the inspiration of Géricault, along with his natural talent for utilizing the color of riots to revive emotions, Eugène also gained prestige with his still life paintings. A Basket of Fruit in a Flower Garden, he painted as an experimental work, had been a trigger incident for post impressionist Paul Gauguin’s A Vase of Flowers and Lilacs. As one of the synthetist masters in French avant-garde, Gauguin always admired 
Eugène’s color palette, and his landscapes together with still life works inspired many modern artists of the 20th Century.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir The Jewish Wedding in Morocco after Delacroix

Jewish Wedding in Morocco by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir c.1875, after Eugène Delacroix's orientalist painting
Jewish Wedding in Morocco by
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1875)
The Jewish Wedding in Morocco Renoir copied has livelier primary colors in pastel tones. However it does not contradict with real Delacroix painting in terms of the marriage elements and characters applied on canvas regarding the marriage customs in Sephardic history. The famous painting was performed by Pierre-Auguste Renoir after Delacroix in 1875 with loose brushstrokes in time, when traditional art techniques are favored. The art replica was sold in a museum purchase, and several fine art collections have shared its rights by auction, including the Musée de l’Orangerie, the Frick Collection, the Musée d’Orsay, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the National Gallery of Art in London.

(Dance at) Bal du Moulin de la Galette painting by French impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir c.1876, in Musée d'Orsay
Bal du Moulin de la Galette
by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1876)
This Eugène Delacroix reproduction is accepted as a genre scene among other modernist Pierre-Auguste Renoir paintings, which are composed of landscapes and portraits, such as Dance at Le moulin de la Galette painting. The art style of Renoir, who took a step toward his art career as a ceramic painter, is so close to Claude Monet. But Renoir always chose people as models, while Monet is known for his landscapes. He has been inspired by the works of Diego Velázquez and Titian, along with Delacroix. In the master period of the artist, his words and portraits became more concise, intense and classical in terms of the colors and the harmony of natural painting elements.

The Luncheon on the Grass c.1865-1866, a colorful still life painting by French impressionist artist Oscar-Claude Monet
The Luncheon on the Grass
by Claude Monet
When comparing Renoir’s reproduction with original Delacroix art, it’s obvious that the modern artist featured more vivid colors that bring happiness to the audience, evoking Claude Monet paintings, while disjoining the Baroque lighting of Peter Paul Rubens or Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. As the leader of French Romantic School, Eugène Delacroix was a person of great importance, who had been influenced by the returns of experiments of the Enlightenment Age and Baroque Art, in terms of Chiaroscuro technique, which can be observed in David and Goliath paintings of Caravaggio (Madrid, Vienna, Rome). Besides Italian Baroque and Venetian Renaissance, the French artist was in touch with romantic poet Charles Baudelaire and English protagonist Lord Byron, who is best known for the narratives of Don Juan, poems of Hebrew Melodies, and his participation in the Greek War of Independence, a historical event that Eugène Delacroix commemorated in Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi.

Jewish Wedding in Morocco Romanticism, Legacy and Dimensions

Jewish Wedding in Morocco is one of the dramatic adjuvant masterpieces to Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, among other most famous paintings in the Louvre artworks, such as the priceless Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault, The Coronation of Napoleon, The Intervention of the Sabine Women, and Oath of the Horatii by Jacques-Louis David. But this genre painting varies from other Eugène Delacroix works by representing a fairy tale alike evening entertainment of a Moroccan Jewish family with their royal guests suited traditional Moroccan outfits. The dimensions of this Eugène Delacroix tableau in the style of Orientalism and Romanticism, is approximately 55,12 × 41,33 inches (105 × 140 centimeters).

Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi c.1826 by French romantic Eugène Delacroix, the Third Siege of Missolonghi by Ottomans
Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi
by Eugène Delacroix (1826)
Delacroix, who aimed to escape city life of Paris and meet foreign cultures, encountered a new urban life style, historical buildings and human stereotypes during his travel to Africa, and made hundreds of oil paintings and drawings on these fancy subjects. Regarding The Barque of Dante and Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi, what are the two famous works of Eugène Delacroix, including details and stories from Classical Rome and Ancient Greece, the romantic painter has found similarities between easterners and westerners due to their attires. According to the artist’s handwritings and as mentioned in the biography of François-René de Chateaubriand, Mémoires D'outre-tombe, he noted that “Les Grecs et les Romains sont ici à ma porte, dans les Arabes qui s'enveloppent d'une couverture blanche et ressemblent à Caton ou à Brutus.” what Delacroix meaning “The Greeks and the Romans are here at my doorstep, in the Arabs who wrap themselves in a white blanket and look like Cato or Brutus.” Obviously that the figures depicted on the big canvas of Jewish Wedding in Morocco, made Delacroix feel like in the age of Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, via their garments resembling ancient Roman clothing.
Jewish Wedding in Morocco by Eugène Delacroix Jewish Wedding in Morocco by Eugène Delacroix Reviewed by Articonog on January 26, 2023 Rating: 5

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