The 1855 work, A Moroccan Saddling a Horse, was typical of Delacroix's output, reflecting what both interested and influenced him. Delacroix had a fairly privileged childhood. Tallyrand was a family friend. This connection may help explain how the then 34 year old artist found himself on a diplomatic mission to North Africa following the French conquest of Algeria. Delacroix was tired of Paris and interested in the idea of the noble savage, an idea popular in the salons and drawing rooms of Europe at the time.
North Africa met Delacroix's expectations and the journey resulted in him producing over 100 pieces of art and influenced the production of many in following years, including A Moroccan Saddling a Horse. Delacroix the Romanticist saw similarities between many he met in North Africa and classical Rome. Many of his works from that time, such as A Moroccan Saddling a Horse, show a man not unlike a Roman soldier. Delacroix's Moroccan had a healthy physique, a fine horse. He wears elaborate robes, leather sandals and arms himself with a dagger and a sword. But for his dark complexion, the man in A Moroccan Saddling a Horse could be straight out of classical times.
There is an ageless, timeless quality to A Moroccan Saddling a Horse. There is nothing to link it to a time or place. The painting highlights Delacroix's strong interest in costumes, classical history, and the exotic. The style of the painting reflects the fashions of the mid 19th century and the artist's natural inclinations towards romanticism and classicism. The skies are dark and broody, with shades of green, suggestive of storms and tempests. Is the Moroccan saddling the horse in a hurry to make a journey to beat the storm or unsaddling in order to shelter? The horse appears calm but the wind is blowing it's mane. A Moroccan Saddling a Horse captures a moment in time but there is a great dealing going on in that moment.
Eugene Delacroix died in France in 1863. He has long been considered one of the great French Romantic painters. A Moroccan Saddling a Horse is an oil on canvas. It measures 56 x 47 cm and can be seen today in the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia.