The Portrait Society | Eugène Delacroix

07/07/1997 | 20th centuryCharcoal and acrylic on canvas50 x 40 cm

Eugène Delacroix was a French painter who is considered the most important representative of French Romanticism and was one of the most influential painters of the first half of the 19th century. Delacroix won prizes for his drawings while still at school. From 1815, he trained in the studio of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, where he learned a neoclassical style, but he was mainly influenced by the works of Théodore Géricault, a pioneer of Romanticism. Delacroix also counted Rubens and the painters of the Venetian Renaissance among his models and thus developed an independent style in which colours and movement were more important than clear contours. With the very first painting, Delacroix showed at the Paris Salon in 1822, he caused controversy as reactions to the painting ranged from complete rejection to enthusiastic admiration. The work in question is "The Barque of Dante" (Louvre, Paris), a copy of which is housed in the MNHA. Delacroix painted his best-known work, "Liberty Leading the People" (Louvre, Paris), in response to the 1830 Revolution. As with all his historical works, the painting exudes both seriousness and drama without being morally or politically classifiable. His journey to Morocco in 1832, during which he produced more than 100 paintings and drawings, had a great influence on his further work. From 1833 onwards, he decorated numerous public buildings and churches on behalf of the state. In 1862, Delacroix participated in the creation of the Societé Nationale des Beaux-Arts. By this time, he was already ill and exhausted. In his will, he arranged for his studio to be auctioned off. His studio housed a total of 9140 works – paintings, watercolours, pastels, drawings, lithographs and more than 60 sketchbooks. It was only then, after his entire oeuvre had become known, that Delacroix's outstanding artistic importance was recognised by contemporary critics.

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