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In this mesmerizing examination of Delacroix’s crowning masterwork, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, and of Saint-Sulpice, the grand church that houses it, Jean-Paul Kauffmann reveals the city of Paris in an entirely new way.
With the same insight and understanding he brought to his National Book Critics Circle Award–nominated The Black Room at Longwood, in The Angel of the Left Bank Jean-Paul Kauffmann confronts humanity’s struggle with God. His muse is Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, Eugène Delacroix’s “spiritual testimony” and certainly one of his masterpieces, a painting that portrays one of the most enigmatic episodes in Genesis.
Throughout his careful, impassioned examination of the work, which Delacroix labored over for eight years and finished in 1861, Kauffmann touches on architecture and art history, philosophy and religion, and the luminous city of Paris itself. Like a detective, he looks for lingering clues in the places Delacroix frequented and the objects he touched some 150 years ago, seeking to connect with the artist’s philosophical and artistic process—and, in turn, to discover what truths we might ultimately glean from it. His journey makes for enthralling reading.
Praise for The Angel of the Left Bank...
“Kauffmann spins off onto delightful tangents. . . . [He] makes his obsession with this painting and all it represents vivid and visceral.”
—Los Angeles Times
“French historian Kauffmann sweeps readers up in his magnificent obsession for Eugène Delacroix’s mural. . . . A masterpiece of investigation, explication, introspection, and narrative, brilliantly illuminating an artist’s mind and a scholar’s heart.”
“A passionate narrative . . . [a] quiet and insightful meditation on the human skirmish with divinity.”
—Los Angeles Times