Eugène Delacroix (Paris 1798 – 1863 Paris)
Brush and brown ink, over pencil – 207 mm × 295 mm
- Atelier Delacroix (Lugt 838a)
- Galerie Kurt Meissner, Zurich
Several of Delacroix’s figure studies were carried out in relation to literary works, in particular those of William Shakespeare and Goethe’s Faust, for which Delacroix executed seventeen lithographies between 1825 and 1827.
This brush drawing with the study of three figures is an example of Delacroix’s quick and hasty technique, typical of the first quarter of the 1820s. The study of the man with a beret can be linked to the 1825 lithography of Macbeth and the Witches. This was not only Delacroix’s first representation of a Shakespearean motif, but also his first experiment with a literary theme, using a new technique. Although this is only a head study, the fixed eyes and the severity of his expression enhance the pathos and the drama which is such a strong feature of the lithography.
Parallels for the figure sitting on the right can be found in the 1824 drawing Head of an Old Woman in Profile. In our drawing, the figure is merely sketched and her outlines, covered by the hood, are only barely visible, and yet the heavily marked facial features, the deep eyes and the darker shades of wash applied around her face suggest a relation to the Head drawing. A precise context for it could not be determined, nonetheless it bears clear references to the 1825 lithography. 
To the left of our drawing is a sumptuously dressed female figure, her head crowned, her left hand resting on a sword. No clear reference for her has been found, however it is most probably a study for a medieval or renaissance costume, for which Delacroix showed an interest at the beginning of the 1820s.
 Maurice Sèrullaz, Inventaire générale des dessins. École française. Dessins d’Eugène Delacroix 1798 – 1863. Paris, 1984. Vol. II
 Exh.Cat. Eugène Delacroix: Sonderausstellung des Landes Baden-Württemberg, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, 2003-2004, no.28, p.128f (ill.)
 ibid. no.20, p.116 (ill.)
 ibid. no.20, p.116: “Das Modell kehrt [....] [in] den Hexendarstellungen zu Macbeth [....] wieder.“
 Maurice Sérullaz, op.cit., Vol. II, pp.32