"Hamlet Sees the Ghost of his Father" by Eugène Delacroix

The collection of the JU Museum features the painting "Hamlet Sees the Ghost of his Father" by the prominent French painter of the Romantic era Eugène Delacroix. The piece has been adapted to the needs of persons with sight disability. Lech Kolasiński is the author of the tactile graphics to appreciate by touch. The description of the painting shown below is by Róża Książek-Czerwińska.


Two spaces

The painting shows a scene played out at dawn against a backdrop of monumental architecture. A transverse line divides it into two unequal parts. The left upper section resembles a triangle in shape. The dominant colour is grey-blue, the colour of the sky before sunrise. The right lower part of the painting is dark and somewhat misty. The dominant hues are golden brown, sepia and black. The artist separated these two spaces, clearly contrasting in terms of colour, even further with a row of massive pillars which closes off the castle’s terrace tightly. Tower-shaped, the pillars follow the rules of perspective becoming increasingly small as they get further from the beholder, moving into the background of the painting. 

Eugène Delacroix,Hamlet Sees the Ghost of his Father - oryginal painting

Adaptations in tactile graphics.

On the photos: on the left - "Hamlet Sees the Ghost of his Father" by Eugène Delacroix; on the right - its tactile graphic adaptation.


The scene is played out between two characters: a young man dressed in black and a ghost of a knight suddenly met by the young man as he was wandering around the castle. Left of the ghost, at a distance, a cock is perched on a canon, its crowing always preceding the break of day. Further on, in the far background, a sketchy town can be made out placed on a hill. The stairs seen in the background lead to the fragments of castle-type architecture situated slightly higher. The entire setting resembles a theatrical decoration or a dream.

Two characters

In the foreground, to the right, a petrified young man, Hamlet, is standing in a very expressive pose, hiding his face behind a flap of a black cloak. He is dressed in a courtly fashion: knickerbockers and a dark bag-sleeve smock worn on a white shirt; tight black stockings on his calves and soft leather footwear of the period on his feet. A sword is attached to his belt. The ghost of the knight – his Father – slimmer and airier, is hovering slightly above the ground. His body, as if ethereal, is shining and not casting a shadow as the body of the young man is; the latter’s shape is almost becoming one with the castle walls in colour, with his shadow clearly visible on the stone floor. The armour-clad knight has a sword at his belt, in his right hand a sceptre, the left one raised to the forehead. A crown sits on his head. His feet seems to dissolve in the air. He appears to be made of mist. A pale light, whose source is invisible, is cast as if from behind the young man’s back and is lighting up both characters. The cock is lifting its head and seems to begin to crow.