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“Desdemona Cursed by her Father” by Eugène Delacroix

Desdemona Cursed by her Father (Desdemona maudite par son père) - Eugène Delacroix

“Desdemona Cursed by her Father” by Eugène Delacroix

“Desdemona Cursed by her Father” by Eugène Delacroix depicts two characters from William Shakespeare’s play Othello. Shakespeare’s Desdemona is a Venetian beauty who enrages her father, a Venetian senator when she elopes with Othello, a Moorish man several years her senior.

In the play’s first act, Desdemona enrages her father by eloping with Othello, a Moor in the Venetian Republic’s service. Later, before the Duke of Venice, his councilmen, and her father, she proclaims her love for Othello and defends her choice.

Delacroix portrays Desdemona on her knees, begging for her father’s acceptance; instead, he raises his hand and curses her. The name “Disdemona” derives from Greek, which means “ill-fated, unfortunate.”

When Othello is deployed to Cyprus in the service of the Republic of Venice, Desdemona accompanies him. His ensign then manipulates her husband into believing she is an adulteress.

Desdemona is deeply upset by her husband’s attacks and baseless jealousy in Shakespeare’s play but continues to assert her love.

In the final act, Othello tells her she has been unfaithful and is going to kill her. Despite Desdemona’s claims of innocence, Othello refuses to believe her and strangles her in his paranoia.

Eventually, Othello learns of Desdemona’s faithfulness after all the lies have been exposed, and he commits suicide.

Desdemona’s role has attracted many notable actresses through the centuries, including the first professional actress on the English stage, who had the distinction of being the first to perform the role in 1660.

The play of Othello continues to be performed across the world, and many cinematic versions have been produced in film.

“Desdemona Cursed by her Father” by Eugène Delacroix

  • Title:                       Desdemona Cursed by her Father
  • Artist:                     Eugène Delacroix
  • Date:                      1854
  • Media:                    oil on cradled panel
  • Dimensions:           Height: 40.6 cm (15.9 in); Width: 32.1 cm (12.6 in)
  • Museum:                Brooklyn Museum

Eugène Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1863) was an artist regarded as the French Romantic school leader.

Delacroix’s use of expressive brushstrokes shaped the Impressionists’ work, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement.

Dramatic and romantic content characterized the central themes, which led him to travel in North Africa, searching for the exotic.

Eugène Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix

A Virtual Tour of the Brooklyn Museum



“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
– Khalil Gibran


Photo Credit 1)Eugène Delacroix, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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