Interior of a Dominican Convent in Madrid
Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix, French, 1798 - 1863
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The subject of this painting is from a popular nineteenth-century English novel, Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, translated into French in 1821. A young man forced into a convent as a child undergoes harrowing trials in order to escape his punitive and corrupt surroundings. Here he is shown being dragged before the bishop of Madrid. The artist depicts a cavernous, vaulted room that is actually based on the interior of the Palace of Justice in Rouen, France. Delacroix's use of this decidedly un-Spanish, secular setting may have been an intentional reference to the oppressive link between civic and religious power, a theme prominent in the novel.