Yes, I read lots of non-fiction, not as much recently as I would like. Mostly early American History, but I have another (of many) interest in Artist, painters particularly, Jacques Louis David, Vincent Van Gogh and Eugene Delacroix. Yes, for their artistry, but even more so by their thoughts and life experiences within their historical context. The post below, shows you my introduction into learning more about Jacques David.
Eugene Delacroix was residually introduced as a character in the movie "Impromtu" which is one of my favorites about the relationship between Frederic Chopin (I have an enormous admiration for his music) and George Sand. George Sand ( real name: Amandine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin) was a romantic novelist of the time of Chopin and Delacriox. Delacroix is considered by many to be the symbol of Romanticism.
Like Rainer's "Letters to a Young Poet", Delacroix wrote of growth out of introspective loneliness. My favorite quote from Delacroix :
"One must be bold to extremity; without daring, and even extreme daring, there is no beauty."
So, I was interested to learn more about Delacroix. I purchased his diary/journal which was extremely fascinating. Delacroix is a much neglected artist. His writings are insightful and introspective. From the introduction of his journal: "I have heard it said-and by a French artist- "I don't really care for Delacroix's pictures, but as a writer of memoirs he is great and will be remembered."
In researching more about his family lineage I came across an interesting bit of scandal. It seems that Eugene Delacroix's father may have actually been the famed Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord. (These French and their endless names!)
In a nutshell, Talleyrand was from privileged nobility, which he rarely acknowledged. The tragic story of his youth will be relegated to another time. Let's just say, his childhood was one of rejection by his parents because of being born crippled. He was basically given to the Church to be raised. He became a renowned priest and womanizer, and a mastermind of the French state throughout the most decadent and turbulent times in French history.
I am in the midst of reading "Talleyrand: The Art of Survival" by Jean Orieux that was translated from French to English by Patricia Wolf and published in 1974. (You can see a theme here with me and out of print books).
Several circumstances lead credence to this long held belief that Talleyrand was Delacroix's father. First, and foremost was evidence that Eugene's documented father, Charles Delacroix, was reported to have an extremely large growth around his "member" that led to his impotence during the time of Eugene's birth. It was believed that Talleyrand was having an affair with Eugene's mother during this time. Another compelling event was the early anonymous donor to Eugene Delacroix's paintings. Later believed to have been Talleyrand. Finally, you can judge for yourself by the portraits of both. Eugene and Talleyrand share a distinctive nose and clef chin.
Decide for yourself.
Both pictures are from the book "Talleyrand: The Art of Survival".