Visual artist. Born 1798 in Charenton, died 1863 in Paris, France. Eugène Delacroix was a French painter and the greatest colorist of Romanticism. He grew up in Marseille and Bordeaux, but in 1805 went to Paris with his mother. Here he became an early pupil of PierreNarcisse Guérin, and was influenced by his fellow pupil Théodore Géricault. Like Géricault and Pierre Paul Prud'hon, he fought academic classicism.
Delacroix exhibited for the first time at the Salon in 1822 with Dante and Vergil and in 1824 with the Massacre at Chios. These paintings gave rise to heated debate between classicists and romanticists. In 1824, he was so excited by John Constable's painting "The High Wagon", that he reworked his own image and acquired the technique of the pure color spots, which would later become so important to Impressionism. He had also become acquainted with the English painter Richard Parks Bonington, traveled to London to study English painting, especially Constable. At the Salon in 1827, he exhibited the paintings: Christ on the Mount of Olives, Doge Marino Falieri's beheading and the death of Sardanapalus, and in 1830 the barricade battle on 28 July. Freedom leads the people (Louvre).
Delacroix's first romantic period (1822–1831) ends with a trip to Morocco and Algeria in 1832. During this time he often painted oriental subjects, but also subjects from the Bible, history, mythology, poetry (Dante, Shakespeare, Ariosto, Byron, Goethe, Walther Scott) and from everyday life.
He is also known for his animal paintings, Tiger Hunt (1854), Horse Fight (1860) and The Lioness (1863).
Delacroix's last major work was the monumental paintings in the chapel of Saint-Sulpice in Paris (1855–1861): the frescoes The Expulsion of Helidorus and Jacob's Struggle with the Angel. Here, the colors are set down in fresh, immediate strokes, and these latest works point towards impressionism. Although his pictures are compositionally based on older traditions, their dynamic movement, their free brushwork and especially their coloristic strength gained ground-breaking importance for later art trends, coloristically and technically not least for Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism.
Delacroix also discovered a law that he called the law of binary colors. It is based on the intensity increase of the colors through simultaneous contrast and on maximum power through primary triad: red, green, yellow. He often used complementary colors and put blue against yellow and red against green. The publication of his letters and diaries caused a great stir; an extract from his diaries was published in Norwegian in 1954.
The Musée Delacroix is located in a garden in St. Germain-des-Prés (Paris) and has sketches, prints and oil paintings by the artist. He lived and worked here 1857–1863. The apartment on the second floor and the studio in the garden now form a national museum, where exhibitions of his paintings are regularly held.
The National Gallery in Oslo owns The Lion tearing a dead man to pieces, Jesus on the Sea of Galilee and Helidor driven out of the temple.
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