Death of Sardanapalus

Eugène Delacroix. Death of Sardanapalus. Oil on canvas. 12 ft 1 in x 16 ft 3 in. Louvre.

Death of Sardanapalus (La Mort de Sardanapale) is an oil painting on canvas, dated 1827 by Eugène Delacroix. Its dimensions are 392 x 496 cm or 12′ 1" x 16′ 3". It currently hangs in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Its dominant feature is a large divan, with its golden elephants, on which a nude prostrates herself and beseeches the apathetic Sardanapalus for mercy. Sardanapalus (Detail) had ordered his possessions destroyed and sex slaves murdered before immolating himself, once he learned that he was faced with military defeat.

Death of Sardanapalus is based on the tale of Sardanapalus, the last king of Assyria, from the historical library of Diodorus Siculus, the ancient Greek historian, and is a work of the era of Romanticism. This painting uses rich, vivid and warm colors, and broad brushstrokes. It was inspired by Lord Byron's play Sardanapalus (1821), and in turn inspired a cantata by Hector Berlioz, La mort de Sardanpale (1830), and also Franz Liszt's opera, Sardanapale (1845-52, unfinished). Jeff Wall's "The Destroyed Room" (1978) recreates Delacroix's painting in a prostitute's bedroom.

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