Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863)

 A French historical painter, and leader of the Romantic movement, Delacroix was born at Charenton-St-Maurice, near Paris, and at the age of seven, his mother placed him in the Lycée Napoléon. Afterwards, on his determining to be a painter, he entered the atelier of Baron Guérin. His first important picture, Dante and Virgil, was exhibited at the Salon in 1822, which produced an enthusiasm of debate (some said Géricault had worked on it), and won him a reputation. He might have received high academic honours if he had not, with Géricault and others, diverged from the prevalent classicism of the school of David and joined the romantic school. He received a small inheritance, and with economy he lived on this, and continued the expensive process of painting large historical pictures. In 1831 he reappeared in the Salon with six works, and immediately after he began travelling to Spain and Morocco, where he found much congenial matter. Delacroix never went to Italy; he refused to go on principle, lest the old masters, either in spirit or manner, should impair his originality and self-dependence. His greatest admiration in literature was the poetry of Byron; Shakespeare also attracted him for tragic inspirations; and of course classic subjects had their turn of his easel. He continued his work indefatigably, having his pictures very seldom favourably received at the Salon. In 1845 he was employed to decorate the library of Luxembourg, that of the chamber of deputies in 1847, the ceiling of the gallery of Apollo in the Louvre in 1849, and that of the Salon de la Paix in the hôtel de ville in 1853. He died in Paris, and in the following year, an exhibition of his works was opened on the Boulevard des Italiens. It contained 174 pictures, many of them of large dimensions, and 303 drawings, showing immense perseverance as well as energy and versatility. As a colourist, and a romantic painter, he now ranks among the greatest of French artists.









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