Aristotle's Animals for the July Monarchy
The painter Eugène Delacroix got lucky when Louis Philippe I, the ‘Citizen King’ who ruled France between 1830 and 1848, commissioned him to decorate the Palais Bourbon, where the Senate and the Deputies held their assemblies. The plan was to encourage cultural progress in the spirit of the Italian Renaissance, using the (by then) rather conservative iconography of classical culture heroes.
But Delacroix knew how to breathe life and colour into familiar old imagery. For the library, he was commissioned in 1840 to create decorations celebrating human achievements in all the spheres of the arts and sciences. Aristotle could have featured alongside the orators or philosophers, but it was his zoology that appealed to Delacroix. He depicted him on a pendentive in the Science cupola alongside Archimedes. Emissaries from Alexander in the East, one of them wearing the red cap of the freedman, bring cervids (deer and antelopes) to Aristotle, who has immediately started describing them on papyrus to include them in his History of Animals.