The artist appreciates that passion is not a human exclusivity and he loves the powerful savagery of tigers and lions. A great admirer of Rubens, he is inspired by the whirlwind of his hunting scenes.
An artist needs real models, although Dürer's rhinoceros is a wonderful exception. Géricault is passionate about horses and Raden Saleh remembers big game hunting. For his tigers and lions, Delacroix looks at his pet cat and at stuffed animals in the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle. Fortunately the menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes hosts a tiger from 1847.
In 1862 the artist feels old and tired. The tiger remained his emblem and his friends flatter him by comparing his behavior with the anthropocentric emotions attributed to this animal. Delacroix imagines confrontations with reptiles. Facing the threat of the snake, the big cat no longer knows how he can still win.
On May 8 in New York, Christie's sells Tigre jouant avec une tortue, oil on canvas 45 x 62 cm painted in 1862, lot 3 estimated $ 5M.
As ever the animal behavior is fanciful. A fully grown tiger no longer plays because game is used by cubs to train in hunting. This one with a paw on the tortoise is stopping as if he waited some advice. The tortoise disturbed and threatened by the predator omitted to close its shell.
SOLD for $ 9.9M including premium