Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1994
Eugene Delacroix is numbered among the greatest and most influential of French painters. He is most often classified as an artist of the Romantic school. His remarkable use of color was later to influence impressionist painters and even modern artists such as Pablo Picasso.
Ferdinand-Victor-Eugene Delacroix was born on April 26, 1798, in Charenton-St-Maurice, France. In 1815 he became the pupil of the French painter Pierre-Narcisse Guerin and began a career that would produce more than 850 paintings and great numbers of drawings, murals, and other works. In 1822 Delacroix submitted his first picture to the important Paris Salon exhibition: Dante and Virgil in Hell. A technique used in this work--many unblended colors forming what at a distance looks like a unified whole--would later be used by the impressionists. His next Salon entry was in 1824: Massacre at Chios. With great vividness of color and strong emotion it pictured an incident in which 20,000 Greeks were killed by Turks on the island of Chios. The French government purchased it for 6,000 francs.
The Massacre at Chios
1824 (60 Kb); Oil on canvas; Louvre
Impressed by the techniques of English painters such as John Constable, Delacroix visited England in 1825. His tours of the galleries, visits to the theater, and observations of English culture in general made a lasting impression upon him.
Between 1827 and 1832 Delacroix seemed to produce one masterpiece after another. He again used historical themes in The Battle of Nancy and The Battle of Poitiers. The poetry of Lord Byron inspired a painting for the 1827 Salon, Death of Sardanapalus. Delacroix also created a set of 17 lithographs to illustrate a French edition of Goethe's Faust.
Study for "The Death of Sardanapalus"
1827-28 (77 Kb); Pastel with chalk over wash on paper; Art Institute of Chicago
The Death of Sardanapal
1827 (130 Kb); Oil on canvas, 392 x 496 cm; Musee du Louvre, Paris
The French revolution of 1830 inspired the famous Liberty Guiding the People, which was the last of Delacroix's paintings that truly embodied the romantic ideal. He found new inspiration on a trip to Morocco in 1832. The ancient, proud, and exotic culture moved him to write "I am quite overwhelmed by what I have seen."
La Liberté guidant le peuple
In 1833 Delacroix painted a group of murals for the king's chamber at the Palais Bourbon. He continued doing this type of painting, including panels for the Louvre and for the Museum of History at Versailles, until 1861. Much of the architectural painting involved long hours on uncomfortable scaffolding in drafty buildings, and his health suffered. He died on Aug. 13, 1863, in Paris. His apartment there was made into a museum in his memory.
Orphan Girl in a Cemetery
Ovid Among the Scythians
(60 Kb); National Gallery at London
The Sea of Galilee
(60 Kb); Walters Art Gallery at Baltimore
The Barque of Dante
1822 (150 Kb); Oil on canvas, 189 x 242 cm (74 1/2 x 95 1/4"); Musee du Louvre, Paris
Combat of Giaour and Hassan
1826 (80 Kb); Oil on canvas; Art Institute of Chicago
The Jewish Bride of Tangier
1832 (50 Kb); Watercolor over lead pencil on beige paper; Louvre
Algerian Women in Their Apartments
1834 (170 Kb); Oil on canvas, (180 x 229 cm) (71 x 90 1/4"); Musee du Louvre, Paris
Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople on 12 April 1204
1840 (240 Kb); Canvas, 411 x 497 cm (162 x 195 1/2 in); Musee du Louvre, Paris
The Abduction of Rebecca
1846 (40 Kb)
Arab Horseman Attacked by a Lion
1849-50 (40 Kb); Oil on panel; Art Institute of Chicago
c. 1852 (170 Kb); Oil on canvas, 32.5 x 24.8 cm (12 7/8 x 9 3/4 in); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
1854 (180 Kb); Oil sketch, 86 x 115 cm (2' 9 3/4" x 3' 9 1/4"); Musee d'Orsay, Paris
1860-61 (80 Kb); Oil on canvas; Art Institute of Chicago
Arabian Horses Fighting in a Stable
1860 (160 Kb); Oil on canvas, 64.5 x 81 cm; Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Arabs Skirmishing in the Mountains
1863 (160 Kb); Oil on canvas, 92.5 x 74.6 cm (36 3/8 x 29 3/8 in); The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Photographs by Mark Harden and Carol Gerten-Jackson.