Delacroix to Klee: Books to Inspire

Jean Leon Gerome artist, best art books,

Artists Eugene Delacroix,  Jean Leon Gerome  and  Paul Klee fill the pages – waiting to inspire me with magic woven with their hands, brushes, colours, paints and imaginations. A cherished book,  “Orientalism – Delacroix to Klee” tops my favourites list, with every page filled with a spectacular art image. Mesmerising!

Eugene Delacroix French artist
Eugene Delacroix artist

Orientalism – Delacroix to Klee          details:    Curator and Editor      Roger Benjamin      ISBN  07313 13569

These exquisite paintings are first rate works from their creators.  They seem to come to life even through the pages,  and I wonder what seeing the paintings in real life would really be like.


From the shimmering cobalt skies of Algiers, Morocco, Tangiers, Istanbul, Cairo ….. the Near East and Middle Eastern people and lands will come to life in a world of vibrancy, colour, textures and heat.   That term  “Orientalism,”  was  basically…. a term that inferred  ‘the East.’   Not necessarily meaning China, etc. as one might initially expect!

With featured artists  Eugene Delacroix and  Jean – Leon Gerome   I certainly get my ‘fix’ for my Arabian horses throughout this book.  And in reference to  my previous post, Art in the horse realm,  the Arabian breed was bred and originated in the Middle East.


Jean Leon Gerome artist
Jean Leon Gerome artist


  • John Frederick Lewis’ use of colour, patterns and light is wonderful; his watercolour on paper  “An Eastern Beauty” c.1851  is a superb design with skilled used of colour, tone, line and Imagination!     Love his work.


  • Etienne Dinet’s  “Slave of Love”  c.1900  small beautifully painted romantic oil that shows a charming young couple with high detail and definition, stunning colours.


  • Lucien Levy-Dhurmer’s  “Evening Promenade Morocco” c. 1930  is a gorgeous minimalistic feat of creative and thoughtful use of shapes.


  •  Paul Klee, Matisse, Arthur Streeton, George Lambert  all have lovely first rate work in the book.


  • Ethel Carrick’s use of colour and light is lovely, her paintings well designed with beautiful, lively broad strokes.  She was the wife to the famous artist, Emanuel Phillips Fox.


  • Ethel Carrick said about painting outside in the blistering Tunisian heat,    “It is hard work…painting all day in the heat and blinding sand. From an artist’s point of view, however it is worth while.”


Yes, I agree.

Being an artist….. It is hard work.   There is so much unseen effort,  it is extremely time consuming.  Being an artist is hard work!   I also agree,  it is very worthwhile.

These artists  have given us their inspired and highly creative interpretations of an fascinating land of mystery.  Some of their great paintings  can be seen in Sydney at the New South Wales Art Gallery.


Exotic lands and the Artist’s Eye

The strangeness of this exotic land as seen from the European perspective is what makes this Orientalism  movement so intriguing. These artists were trying to convey and express the mysteries of  colours, light, atmosphere, culture,  traditions, patterns, textures  as  seen from the European view  and more specifically… from an artist’s  eye.

Which we know,  artists see  the world in a much different light than the average ‘joe.’

The average person may well wonder at the meaning of such things, the purpose, the function,  the life time effort & commitment, let alone the cost.  “What is this jumble of colours?!”  One patron was overheard exclaiming.

An Evening Promenade Morocco is almost at first glance, merely a canvas of whites, greys and purples and a hint of eyes.   “Where’s the Detail?!”   In the words of a famous master, its not what you put into the painting that makes it great – its what you leave out.

But back then, those artists  had a much rougher time trying to convince the public to “like” new styles and subjects. Being creative, original, seeing outside the traditional box was not exactly warmly embraced.

art book collection
Art Book collection

4 More Favourite Treasured Art Books

  • Sydney Long,    The Spirit of the Land;      he conveys a wonderfully evocative style that I much admire.      In my  feeling for the land, I aimed for a  likewise sensitive interpretative approach.
  • Hilary Page’s   Guide to Watercolour Paints  –  its a brilliant and very useful reference tool,  great book on paints and pigments;
  • Watercolor Paper Handbook,  Werner Mertz …. its out of print,  but I’ve managed to replace it the 2 times it went ‘walk about.’    This is a fantastic educational book on what paper surfaces look like, what they do, how they lift and much more.  Amazing book.  Even if it gets taken again, I will repurchase it!    Werner Mertz has some great paintings to illustrate these as well. See Below.
  • Watercolour Handbook Werner Mertz
    Watercolour Handbook Werner Mertz
Werner Mertz handbook
Werner Mertz handbook
  • Tate Watercolour Manual Lessons from the Great Masters    Tony Smibert and Joyce H. Townsend                   Beautiful!       Featuring great masters  John Sell Cotman, Claude Lorrain, John Constable, JM William Turner, Jean Baptiste Corot as well as the work of Tony Smibert with wonderfully adept ‘how to’ landscape and foliage demos and tips.
Tate Watercolours
Tate Watercolours, lessons from the great Masters, Tony Smibert Joyce Townsend

Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

12 thoughts on “Delacroix to Klee: Books to Inspire

  1. Thanks for this great collection of your favourite books Debi. I’m going to search for some of them, and it also reminds me to spend more time browsing my own library. Best wishes for a great week.

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  2. So fun to re-visit this post….seems so fresh until I saw Tony’s book and then I remembered. I always loved Sydney Long’s work but now I need to research the artists presented here and to take another look at orientalism. I am fascinated by the idea of what you leave out rather than what do you put in a painting. So difficult when dealing with a western mindset of which I am fighting with my own! That need to depict up the yazoo to please and satisfy people and myself!


    1. “What You Leave OUT, rather than put in…” wow, Margaret!! great art tip – right there! sometimes I have people work on a very intense, laborious, drawing; then follow up with a free and loose Color study the next session.

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