The 31 March 2017 issue of the TLS reprinted a piece from 18 March 1977 where artists were asked to “nominate the book(s) on art which have made the strongest impression on them.” Tom Phillips and Robert Motherwell both mentioned the Journal of Eugène Delacroix.
Which book on art? It is a difficult question for me to separate this from the question, “A book on which artist?”, since the pictures in a book are likely to have a greater effect on me than the text, except where the text itself is the artist’s work, as in those two constantly read companions, the Letters of van Gogh and the Journal of Delacroix.
Phaidon published a selection (about half the length of the original, it says) edited by Hubert Wellington and translated by Lucy Norton, but it’s out of print now (?!). I found a nice used copy online easily (in this case from Hay on Wye Booksellers).
Every page is filled with wonderful things. I flipped around randomly and came across this, from 27 August 1854:
They are going to launch a large vessel called a clipper at noon today. Another of these American inventions to make people go faster and faster. When they have managed to get travellers comfortably seated inside a cannon so that they can be shot off like bullets in any given direction civilization will doubtless have taken a great step forward. We are making rapid strides towards that happy time when space will have been abolished; but they will never abolish boredom, especially when you consider the ever-increasing need for some occupation to fill in our time, part of which, at least, used to be spent in travelling.
It is a fascinating book, and I’m looking forward to reading it slowly.