Roberto Calasso

from la folie

delacroix and chopin were bound by an intense friendship. But there was a fine difference between the two: Delacroix “never tires of listening to Chopin, he relishes him, he knows him by heart,” observed George Sand. Whereas Chopin looked at Delacroix’s paintings without managing to utter a word. Not because he disapproved of them, but out of a total insensitivity to art in general. Everything struck him as eccentric, and “all that he found eccentric scandalized him”; another remark by George Sand, who added, “He closes himself up in all that is most blinkered in conventionality.” Chopin did not even like it when people told him that his “genius is the most original and individual that exists.” This struck him as suspect. And he would open his eyes wide, dumbfounded, when Delacroix spoke of the “mystery of reflections,” and applied this to music, too. As if he thought, “Oh well, he’s a painter...”

Delacroix always enjoyed spending a few days as a guest of George Sand and Chopin, in Nohant, deep in the province of Berry. He would set to painting flowers, whose “fine architecture” he said he admired. They all played billiards and cards, took walks, or withdrew to their rooms. There were suspended, perfect moments. Delacroix wrote to Pierret, “every so often, from the window open onto the garden there would come gusts of the music of Chopin, who was working on his own account; and this blended with the song of the nightingale and the scents of the rose garden.”