The painting has a curious history. The time is 1838, the setting is one of musical intimacy and the starring protagonists are three: Frederic Chopin, George Sand, and the artist himself, Eugene Delacroix.
Although the portrait in question is of Frederic Chopin, we find that the presence of George Sand was vital to the realisation of the painting.
It was George Sand who introduced the two men in 1838 - a meeting that led to the idea and the execution of this formidable portrait and to a long-lasting friendship between Chopin and Delacroix.
George Sand was the revolutionary lady of her day. She was a novelist and originally adopted a man's name to be better valued as an author. She took it further: she also adopted men's clothing and even smoked a pipe.
Her extravagant behaviour stirred up some scandal; she was not perturbed and openly became Frederic Chopin's lover. She persuaded her friend, the great romantica painter Eugene Delacroix, to paint their portraits together.
The artist was enthusiastic about the idea and even borrowed a piano so that Chopin could play it in his studio while he painted the couple.
Indeed, Delacroix captured George Sand with the rapt look of full musical appreciation; she is listening intently and smoking a cigar.
Chopin himself was portrayed concentrated on his playing and immersed in the music. However, the painting, for some reason, was never finished, and one of the missing elements in the incomplete composition was the piano.
The picture remained in Delacroix's studio until the painter's death in 1863. The painting then became the property of a certain M. Dutilleux who, maybe believing that he would double his profits, had the double portrait cut into two separate paintings.
In 1874,the portrait of Chopin alone was auctioned for 820 francs. Before being hung in the Louuvre, in 1907, the portrait of Chopin was the property of a certain M. Marmontel. The other half, the portrait of George Sand, is in Copenhagen.