Ferdinand Eugène Delacroixwas a French Romantic painter whose use of colour was influential in the development of both Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting. His visit to Morocco in 1832 inspired him further. His inspiration came from historical or contemporary events or literature, and a visit to Morocco in 1832 provided him with further exotic subjects.

Early life of Delacroix

Eugène Delacroixwas born on 26 April 1798 in Charenton-Saint-Maurice, to parents who were both outcasts: his father was a domestic servant whose employers had him deported for being part of the French Revolution, his mother was the daughter of an incestuous relationship between cousins. Eugène's mother died of tuberculosis when he was seven years old, and his father was gone from home for long periods, so Eugène was raised by his maternal grandmother and by his aunt, along with other members of the family. During those years he attended two Catholic schools, the second of which he did not finish due to his refusal to swear religious oaths. Eugène started drawing lessons when he was 11 years old. His early drawings include many studies after nature; at 14 he began to practice classical sculpture after antique statues. As a young adult, Delacroix was influenced by the Romantic movement. He became friends with the poet Chateaubriand, who helped him develop an aesthetic sense in matters of art and encouraged him to make entries in various competitions at the Académie des Beaux Arts that would lead to his winning several prizes.

Eugène Delacroix's Painting Techniques

Delacroix was a leader of the Romantic movement and set the stage for future French artists. Delacroix's passion for art began at age 10, when his father took him to see artworks by Correggio and Rubens in Paris. He developed a love for painting, particularly after seeing some works by Titian at the Louvre. Delacroix's main influences were Rubens, Poussin, Rembrandt, Titian, Raphael, Claude Lorrain and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. His early masterpiece The Barque of Dante (1822), inspired by Dante Alighieri's Inferno illustrates the influence of the Italian Renaissance masters that he had studied in Paris under Jacques-Louis David. Delacroix's passion for the dramatic and his bold use of color and form were unrivaled in his time. His work is admired for its masterful, rapid execution and expressive color. Delacroix's interest in the theater as a child was nurtured by his uncle Louis Delacroix, an influential dramatist, and fostered by his father's passion for literature. The subject matter of his paintings was drawn from Romantic literature such as Lord Byron, Victor Hugo , and Alfred de Musset . He also painted portraits to support himself and later in life painted several self-portraits, often depicting illnesses (he suffered from epilepsy). Delacroix's early artistic training under Pierre Lacour gave him a solid foundation of classical techniques. This training set the stage for Delacroix to move beyond formalistic Classicism and develop a more personal style that emphasized color and feeling over composition and sculpture. As an early Romantic artist, Delacroix embraced the expressive use of color and brushstroke. His most famous painting Death of Sardanapalus (1827-28) is an example of this. The painting has violent, passionate brushstrokes and the color palette is very somber. Delacroix's style can also be recognized in another well-known work, Liberty Leading the People (1830). This painting shows the French Revolution and contains large areas of bright reds, blues, and yellows.

The Impact of Eugène Delacroix's Paintings

Eugène Delacroix's paintings also had a strong impact on the development of the Romantic Movement in France. Delacroix's use of color is often considered to be a major contribution to the Romantic Movement. He believed that color had a symbolic value and could express emotions. In his painting "Liberty Leading The People", Delacroix uses the color red to convey the strength and determination of the people during the revolution. In addition, Delacroix was known for his use of contrasts in his paintings. In works such as "The Death of Sardanapalus" and "The Women of Algiers", Delacroix used two different sides to describe a certain situation or aspect of society.  Delacroix's paintings have continued to have an impact on society throughout time, influencing many contemporary artists such as Picasso and Matisse. His work can be seen in many museums across the world, including the Louvre in Paris, France.

The Romantic Period in Art

As the Romantic period begins, artists start to look at nature with a new sense of optimism. They want to show that there is still beauty in an age of industry and progress. Artists like Eugène Delacroixreject the strict rules of classicism for a more emotive style. They paint scenes from history, mythology, and literature with the energy and emotion the subject deserves. Delacroix's use of color is influenced by his travels to North Africa, where he absorbed the bright hues of Islamic art . He was also inspired by other cultures, including those of China and Japan. His other main interest was in depicting scenes from history, often choosing moments of violence or tension for his subjects. His Death of Sardanapalus (1827) shows an Assyrian king's palace engulfed in flames as he commits suicide rather than face defeat. The Barque of Dante (1822-25) depicts the poet Dante on his way to hell, surrounded by fantastical creatures.

The Romantic Movement in France

The painters, poets, playwrights, and novelists of the Romantic period rejected what they felt was banality in the art of the 18th century (classical art), favoring instead subjectivity and imagination. Many of these painters were associated with Romanticism during their lifetime. Some were even avowed Romantics. Others were identified by later critics, particularly after the decline of Romanticism, as having been "pre-Romantic" or even anti-Romantic. The term is also sometimes used for certain early 20th-century literature, music and architecture. The movement can be defined by its reaction to the preceding academic art. The word "Romantic" itself is even derived from one of the terms used to describe its opposite: classicism or classicistic. Most Romantic writers believe that the world is full of mystery and wonder. They are fascinated by exotic places, strange customs, unusual people, and the occult. The Romantics tend to have a pessimistic view of human nature. They believe that most people are motivated by selfishness and greed. Many Romantics think that the scientific method is the best way to explore the natural world. However, they also believe that human understanding is limited. Most Romantics are distrustful of organized religion. Many are Deists they believe in God but not religious organizations. They think some form of spiritualism or mysticism may give people access to greater truths than those revealed by organized religion. The Romantics strongly oppose censorship and favor freedom of speech and press. This is because many of them feel oppressed by social conventions or traditional morality. Although the Romantics fought against political repression, most were aristocrats who supported traditional political leaders like Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) or Louis XVIII (1755-1824). They saw no need for radical political reform like democracy or equality for women. Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school. The vivid reds and blues in his paintings are among the most widely recognizable in French art. Delacroix's first great success was the Death of Sardanapalus exhibited at the Salon of 1827. This painting created a sensation because of its realism and because all of its figures were shown in motion.

Eugène Delacroix's Tragic Life

Eugène Delacroix's life was full of ups and downs. He had a rough childhood and his first wife died in childbirth. Delacroix suffered from epilepsy, which made him prone to depression. He was also a perfectionist and he struggled with his career as an artist, who was not respected by the art community of his time. Delacroix continued to paint throughout his life, but he also had a secret passion: music. He played the flute and the guitar and composed music for operas and theatrical performances. He is perhaps best known for his painting Liberty Leading the People, which commemorates the July Revolution of 1830. The painting shows a bare-breasted woman leading people to freedom; it is considered as one of the first works of modern art because of its use of bright colors.

The Death of Eugene Delacroix

Delacroix became the most influential French artist of his generation. He was also a strong influence on the following generation: the Impressionists. Delacroix's use of color and his intense emotionalism mark him as the leader of the Romantic school in France, and he is regarded as one of the forerunners of modern art. He is best known for his romantic paintings, such as Liberty Leading the People (1830) and The Massacre at Chios (1824), which contain intense colors and include background scenes that do not fit into an overall realistic scheme. On July 13, 1863, French painter Eugène Delacroix died. He had been working on his most famous painting, The Barque of Dante, when he suffered a stroke that rendered him unable to paint. He was buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris.

Oil painting reproduction Eugène Delacroix