Voir la peinture en iconoclaste: Jeff Wall et La Mort de Sardanapale



In the Salon of 1827, Eugène Delacroix presents a painting that will create a scandal: The Death of Sardanapalus. Crudely depicting the death of an Assyrian monarch that decides to destroy his possessions before committing suicide, Delacroix’s work emblematizes the romantic aspirations, against the neo-classical canon. More than a hundred and fifty years later, Canadian photographer Jeff Wall adapts this painting in one of his first notable oeuvre: The Destroyed Room. Showing a ransacked and ravaged chamber, this work precisely recreates the atmosphere of the Sardanapalus, through the lens of iconoclasm. By doing so, Wall both offers a tribute to Delacroix, and presents a reflection on his own art: iconoclasm, against common ideas, can be a perpetuation of a tradition, a prolongation of the reflection for art’s sake.

Keywords: romanticism, adaptation, photography, memory