Study for Apollo

The Paris Opera

Decorative Works

In 1866, Delaunay was commissioned, together with Félix Barrias and Paul Baudry, to decorate the lobby of the Paris Opera.Designed by his friend Charles Garnier, the new building would become a symbol of national pride when it was completed after the defeat by Prussia in 1870.

Delaunay completed his assignment in 1874: a ceiling whose subject was Immortality and the three tympanums Parnassus, Orpheus and Eurydice and Amphion Building a City. All his subjects had to do with musicians and the eternal fame that attaches to them.

In Immortality, he shows the winged spirit bestriding the Zodiac and ordering the Muse of History, seated on clouds, to inscribe the names of the great musicians on her tablets.

Preliminary studies

Apollo Playing the Lyre illustrates the mature style of an artist with a predilection for noble poses and sensual colours. Orpheus, with its dramatic subject, stays close to the style of his friend Gustave Moreau, while Amphion is treated in an appropriately classical manner.

Study for Apollo
Charcoal, graphite with white chalk highlights
49 x 32 cm
Delaunay Estate Bequest, 1897
Inv. 5608