EUGÉNE DELACROIX: THE EPITOME OF FRENCH ROMANTICISM
By Nadar - This file was derived from: Félix Nadar 1820-1910 portraits Eugène Delacroix.jpg, Public Domain, Link
Insisting on the significance of color rather than line and evocating the expression of passion and poetry in painting, the French Romantic artist, Ferdinand Victor Eugéne Delacroix, is remembered as a fascinating man, a great painter, and a typically intellectual French hero, who came to epitomize the French aesthetics of romanticism.
The master of exotic passion, Delacroix was born on April 26, 1798, at Charenton-Saint-Maurice in Île-de-France, near Paris. His early education was at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, where he steeped himself in the classics and won awards for drawing. In 1815, Delacroix began his training with Pierre-Narcisse Guérin in the neoclassical style of Jacques-Louis David.
In 1819, working on an early church commission, Delacroix made “The Virgin of the Harvest”, which displays a Raphaelesque influence. Whereas, the other commission, “The Virgin of Sacred Heart” (1821), evidences a freer interpretation. In 1882, his first major painting, “The Barque of Dante”, was accepted by the Paris Salon. It was purchased by the State for the Luxembourg Galleries.
Delacroix's painting of the “Massacre at Chios”(1824), shows sick, dying Greek civilians about yo be slaughtered by the Turks. The painting made him recognized as a leading painter in the new Romantic style, and was bought by the state. Delacroix produced a second painting, “Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi” (1825), referring to the capture of Missolonghi by Turkish forces.
After his trip to England in 1825, Delacroix was inspired by the color and handling of English painting, which provided an impetus for his only full-length portrait, the elegant “Portrait of Louis-Auguste Schwiter, (1826-30). By 1825, he was producing lithographs illustrating Shakespeare, and soon thereafter lithographs and paintings from Goethe's Faust.
In 1827, Delacroix painted the “Death of Sardanapalus”, which reflect an emotionally stirring scene alive with beautiful colors, exotic costumes and tragic events. The literary source for the painting was a play by Byron.
Delacroix’s most influential work came in 1830 with the painting “Liberty Leading the People”, which for choice of subject and technique highlights the differences between the romantic approach and the neoclassical style. After the revolution of 1848, the was put on display by the newly elected president, Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III), and today it is visible in the Louvre museum.
In 1832, Delacroix traveled to Spain and North Africa, and produced over 100 paintings and drawings of scenes from or based on the life of the people of North Africa. In 1834, he managed to sketch some women secretly in Algiers, as in the painting “Women of Algiers in their Apartments”. Delacroix also incorporated animals in his painting such as “Arab Horses Fighting in a Stable”(1860), “The Lion Hunt”(1856), and “Arab Saddling his Horse” (1855).
In 1838, Delacroix created a sensation at the Paris Salon with his painting “Medea about to Kill her Children”. It was his first large scale treatment of a scene from Greek mythology. From 1840s to 1850s, Delacroix received numerous commissions to decorate public buildings in Paris. The work was fatiguing, and during these years he suffered from an increasingly fragile condition.
In 1862, Delacroix participated in the creation of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Just after his death, the society organized a retrospective exhibition of 248 paintings and lithographs by Delacroix, and ceased to mount any further exhibitions.
Eugéne Delacroix died in Paris, on August 13, 1863, and was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.