Delacroix was a great name in 19th century French painting. Delacroix, master of Romanticism since the 1820s, is one of the best-known painters of the 19th century. Discover ten anecdotes that you probably haven't heard about him.
1.There is a large mystery about fathers.
Although some biographers say that Eugène is not the son of his alleged father, this is still an open question. Delacroix, a politician of the early nineteenth century, had suffered from a testicular tumor for fourteen years; thus, he would have been unable to reproduce. The fact that Eugène Delacroix replaced Charles-François Delacroix at the Foreign Office in 1797 is often attributed to the former, but it was actually Talleyrand who arranged for his appointment.
2.A love for music
Delacroix is famous today thanks to the numerous paintings that made him famous during his lifetime and after his death. His musical education started early: an old organist and Mozart enthusiast who saw in Eugène Delacroix a future musical genius taught him. But, unfortunately, Delacroix's father died and took with him his son's plans to become a musician.
3.The protégé of painter Géricault
In 1815, Delacroix started to take lessons from the painter Pierre-Narcisse Guérin. However, while the latter is teaching him his art, he quickly notices how talented his pupil is. This is because Guérin introduced him to Théodore Géricault. Géricault, who was already famous as a painter, had great success at the 1819 Salon with The Raft of the Medusa. Géricault will have a significant effect on Delacroix's style.
4.The inspiration for English watercolorists
Delacroix, a fan of the French watercolorist Copley Fielding, met the fan Charles-Raymond Soulier in 1816. This new acquaintance taught him how to use watercolors. Delacroix discovers that painting can be something other than what he learned at the Beaux-Arts, in a system that valued strict obedience to established rules. Watercolor was Delacroix's passion, and he never abandoned it; traces of watercolor can be found throughout his travel books.
5.The "Chastened Rubens"
In 1822, when his first painting was exhibited at the Salon, Delacroix's Dante and Virgil in the Underworld unleashed passions and divided the critics: it was a work of rare intensity. If Étienne-Jean Delécluze, a student of David, sees in his painting a "real tartouillade", Delacroix attracts the praise of Adolphe Thiers, then a young journalist. Antoine-Jean Gros described Delacroix as "Rubens châtié".
6.A dissident among academics?
Delacroix is a dissident among academics for his use of ambivalence in his painting: he both paints in the academic tradition of renowned painters such as Raphael and Michelangelo, but also draws inspiration from the innovative works of the pre-Romantic Géricault. As a dissident among academics, he delivers an eclectic work, sometimes taking up the religious and mythological themes of his elders, sometimes privileging the handling of colors over drawing.
7.Delacroix and Victor Hugo
In 1826, Delacroix began frequently visiting the cenacles hosted by young writer Victor Hugo. Romanticism was founded by Walter Scott in The Preface to Cromwell, and Delacroix was the official representative of Romanticism in painting, replacing Géricault, who had died two years earlier. The relationship between Victor Hugo and Eugène Delacroix deteriorated a few years later, the author reproaching the painter for not being sufficiently involved in the romantic movement.
8.Traveling to the Orient
The fascination of the painter Delacroix for the Orient and its customs seduces him. His friends borrow from him a whole set of costumes and objects that he brought back from his travels. The fact that he painted scenes from his trip around the Mediterranean in an authentic manner inspired Delacroix to travel to the Orient, which he did in 1832.
At the end of his career, Delacroix devoted himself to the painting of decorative ensembles. The Minister of Public Works, Adolphe Thiers, commissioned Vernier in 1831 to do the Throne Room of the Palais Bourbon. He first painted the library of the same palace between 1838 and 1847, then the Senate between 1840 and 1846, and finally outdid himself at the church of Saint-Sulpice from 1850.
10.The death of Delacroix
In late 1858, Delacroix had been experiencing health problems. In the winter of 1863, his health worsened considerably. He suffered from numerous pulmonary crises and died on August 13, 1863. While Picasso was buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery, many young painters saw his death as the departure of a genius.