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DELACROIX

Eugene Delacroix
(1798-1863)

" 'The last of the great artists of the Renaissance and the first modern'; thus Baudelaire on Delacroix. For Baudelaire, Delacroix's position as one of the great figures of art history was assured not just by his daring and originality qualities generally considered Romantic - but for the fact that they found expression within a tradition. Another great poet, Paul Valéry restated this paradox: 'The veritable tradition in great things is not to repeat what others have done, but to rediscover the spirit that created these great things - and creates utterly different things in different times.' Delacroix rediscovered the spirit of Michelangelo and Rubens, but the masterpieces that he created under their influence are of a very different kind. In his turn, Picasso made many studies of Delacroix's Women of Algiers. In Kahnweiler's imaginary dialogue, Picasso tells Delacroix: "You took what you could from Rubens and made Delacroix of it. In the same way, I think of you and what I make is my own."

"The last of the great Renaissance artists, Delacroix comes of a lineage whose founder is Michelangelo and whose prodigal son is Rubens. In hisJournal, Delacroix more than once lays claim to this heritage: "Familiarity with the work of Michelangelo has exalted and elevated every subsequent generation of painters." Writing on Michelangelo, Delacroix speaks as the perpetuator of the tradition he describes: "The depiction of tender sentiments lies outside the bounds of Michelangelo's genius. In this work [The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel] above all, he indulged his taste for terribilitas. His imagination, oppressed by endless re-reading of the Prophets, yielded only images of dread, and the solitude he cherished could only exacerbate his melancholy disposition."

"In rendering homage to Michelangelo, Delacroix describes himself. The genius of Michelangelo is perhaps the closest kin to his own (in 1849-50, he imagined and painted Michelangelo's studio). Like Michelangelo, Delacroix inclines to terribilitas; his imagination too dwells on images of dread. From The Massacre of Chios to The Death of Sardanapalus, the tragic visions of Delacroix portray horrors unequalled even in the Sistine Chapel. Charles Baudelaire, an unconditional admirer, puts it thus in hisEugene Delacroix, Work and Life: Everywhere we see " ... desolation, massacres and fire, everything testifies to the eternal and incorrigible barbarity of mankind. Smoke rises from cities razed to the ground, the throats of victims are cut, women are raped, and children hurled beneath horses' hooves or pierced by the daggers of their raving mothers; this entire corpus is a hymn in praise of suffering inevitable and unrelieved".

"Though we trace Delacroix's artistic heritage directly back to Michelangelo and Rubens, in the matter of colour there is a further influence, that of the Venetian school. Delacroix is a master of colour, and his influence on Cezanne and Matisse is clear. In his own words: "The work of a painter who is not a colourist is illumination rather than painting. If one intends something other than cameos, colour is, strictly speaking, one of the founding principles of painting, no less so than chiaroscuro, proportion and perspective... Colour gives the appearance of life."

"As early as 1824, Stendhal had perceived in Delacroix "a pupil ofTintoretto". In his Journal, Delacroix noted: "In Giorgione, Titian and their pupils, Venice possesses artists who perform miracles of colour without any derogation from beauty." In Delacroix's words, "all the great problems of art were resolved in the 16th century"; perfection "in drawing, grace and composition" had been attained by Raphael, and in "colour and chiaroscuro" by Correggio, Titian, and Paolo Veronese. Nonetheless, it was Rubens who, after Michelangelo, left the most profound mark upon Delacroix's art. Delacroix was overwhelmed. The affinity between the swirling dynamic vitality of Rubens and Delacroix's art is clear: "Then comes Rubens, who had already forgotten the traditions of simplicity and grace. He created a new ideal through sheer force of genius. Strength, striking effects and expressiveness are pushed to their limits."

"Maurice Sérullaz expands on this: "Delacroix perceived that, under the impetus of Rubens, a new epoch of art had opened up, an era of synthesis and equilibrium. On the one hand, there was the power, abundance, fiery dynamism, realism - and a certain penchant forBaroque eloquence and even effect. On the other, there was a nobility of conception and style. the paradigmatic harmony, sobriety and austerity of the Classical masters. Thus Delacroix discovered himself through Rubens. In Rubens, his own errors found their vindication. They had been severely criticised by his contemporaries, especially in his large decorative compositions; but, as in Rubens, they are the work of a genius at once rational and impulsive, inventive and objective, visionary and realist."

"The superabundant life and decorative invention that typify the work of Rubens are present throughout Delacroix's career. To take just two examples, in The Death of Sardanapalus, the women butchered upon the pyre derive from the Nereids in Rubens' The Landing of Marie de' Medici' in Marseilles, which Delacroix repeatedly copied; and the Christ on the Cross (1845) was inspired by a detail in another Rubens masterpiece, Christ on the Cross (Le Coup de Lance) (1620). For Delacroix admired in Rubens a quality that he himself possessed in abundance: the ability to unite allegory and history, and mould into a tumultuous whole figures mythological, historical, literary and real. He too could convey the turbulent movement of brightly coloured forms without disturbing the harmony of their arrangement and their overall composition in light and space.

" 'The last of the great artists of the Renaissance and the first modern...' Baudelaire's definitive description of Delacroix requires us to explain not only the influences that left their mark upon him, but how he was able to assimilate these; how he made use of them to construct his own originality. This, in its turn, became his own legacy, and his own influence has been very widespread. The lesson that he teaches is clear. It is not enough to imitate the great masters, one must, instead, draw on them for inspiration as one seeks to transcend their achievement..."

- From Gilles Neret, "Eugene Delacroix 1798-1863: The Prince of Romanticism"

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DELACROIX, Eugene Arabs Skirmishing in the Mountains 1863 Oil on canvas 36 3/8 x 29 3/8 in. (92.5 x 74.6 cm) The National Gallery of Art, Washington

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DELACROIX, Eugene The Death of Sardanapal 1827 Oil on canvas 392 x 496 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Lion Hunt 1854 Oil sketch 2' 9 3/4" x 3' 9 1/4" (86 x 115 cm) Musee d'Orsay, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Liberty Leading the People 1830 Oil on canvas 102 1/4 x 128 in. (260 x 325 cm) Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene The Battle of Tailleburg (draft) Detail of Louis IX on white horse 1834-35 Oil on canvas 53 x 66.5 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene The Battle of Tailleburg (draft) 1834-35 Oil on canvas 53 x 66.5 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Self-Portrait c. 1837 Oil on canvas 65 x 54.5 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Sketch for The Death of Sardanapalus: Female Nude, killed from behind Pastel, red and white chalk on paper 40 x 27 cm Musee du Louvre, Departement des Arts graphiques, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Sketch for The Death of Sardanapalus Pastel over graphite, red and white chalk and black crayon on unbleached paper 44 x 58 cm Musee du Louvre, Departement des Arts graphiques, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene The Death of Sardanapalus Detail of cut throat 1827-28 Oil on canvas 392 x 496 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Arab Saddling his Horse 1855 Oil on canvas 56 x 47 cm Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

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DELACROIX, Eugene The Abduction of Rebecca 1858 Oil on canvas 105 x 81.5 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Pieta c. 1850 Oil on canvas 35 x 27 cm Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo

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DELACROIX, Eugene Orphan Girl at the Cemetery 1824 Oil on canvas 66 x 54 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Page from the Moroccan Notebook 1832 Watercolor 19.3 x 12.7 cm Musee du Louvre, Departement des Arts graphiques, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Sketch for the Women of Algiers (Mounay ben Sultan) 1832 Watercolor over graphite 10.7 x 13.8 cm Musee du Louvre, Departement des Arts graphiques, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Still Life with Lobsters 1826-27 Oil on canvas 80.5 x 106.5 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Liberty Leading the People Detail of musket-bearer (Delacroix self-portrait) 1830 Oil on canvas 260 x 325 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Liberty Leading the People Detail of Liberty 1830 Oil on canvas 260 x 325 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Liberty Leading the People 1830 Oil on canvas 260 x 325 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Arab Horses Fighting in a Stable 1860 Oil on canvas 64.6 x 81 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Heliodorus Driven from the Temple Detail 1854-61 Oil and wax on plaster 751 x 485 cm Saint-Sulpice, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Heliodorus Driven from the Temple 1854-61 Oil and wax on plaster 751 x 485 cm Saint-Sulpice, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Fanatics of Tangier 1837-38 Oil on canvas 97.8 x 131.3 cm The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

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DELACROIX, Eugene The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople Detail of surrendered women 1840 Oil on canvas 410 x 498 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople 1840 Oil on canvas 410 x 498 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene The Massacre at Chios Detail 1824 Oil on canvas 417 x 354 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Algerian Women in Their Apartments Detail 1834 Oil on canvas 71 x 90 1/4" (180 x 229 cm) Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Algerian Women in Their Apartments 1834 Oil on canvas 71 x 90 1/4" (180 x 229 cm) Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople on 12 April 1204 1840 Canvas 162 x 195 1/2 in. (411 x 497 cm) Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene The Barque of Dante 1822 Oil on canvas 74 1/2 x 95 1/4" (189 x 242 cm) Musee du Louvre, Paris

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DELACROIX, Eugene Andromeda c. 1852 Oil on canvas 12 7/8 x 9 3/4 in. (32.5 x 24.8 cm) Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

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DELACROIX, Eugene Algerian Women in Their Apartments 1834 Oil on canvas 71 x 90 1/4" (180 x 229 cm) Musee du Louvre, Paris

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Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix. George Sand (unfinished). 1838. Oil on canvas. Ordrupgaardsamlingen, Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen, Denmark

delacroix_Frédéric_Chopin_(unfinished)_1838

Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix. Frédéric Chopin (unfinished) 1838. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris, France

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Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix. Mlle Rose. 1817-1820. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris, France.

delacroix_A_Young_Tiger_Playing_with_its_Mother

Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix. A Young Tiger Playing with its Mother. 1830. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris, France

delacroix_The_Death_of_Ophelia

Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix. The Death of Ophelia. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris, France

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Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix. Odalisque. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris, France.

delacroix_Odalisque_Reclining_on_a_Divan

Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix. Odalisque Reclining on a Divan. c.1827-1828. Oil on canvas. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.

delacroix_The_Entombment_of_Christ

Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix. The Entombment of Christ. 1848. Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA

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Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix. Aspasia. c.1824. Oil on canvas. Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France

delacroix_Portrait_of_Frederic_Villot

Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix. Portrait of Frederic Villot. c.1832. Oil on canvas. National Gallery, Prague, Chech Republic