Eugène Delacroix Biography
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Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix, the most vivid representative of
French Romanticism, was born on 26 April 1798, the forth child of Charles
Delacroix, Foreign Minister under the Directory and Prefecture of
Marseilles. There is some reason to believe that his real father was
Talleyrand (1754-1838), the famous diplomat, whom Eugene Delacroix resembled
in character and appearance. Charles Delacroix died in 1805; in 1814
Eugene’s mother followed, leaving him an orphan at the age of 16. In
1816 he entered l'Ecole des Beaux-Art, where he befriended
Bonington and Pierret.
In 1822 his The Barque of Dante was accepted for the Paris Salon,
and subsequently acquired by the state. At the 1824 Salon Delacroix
presented The Massacre of Chios, a personal reaction to the genocide
practiced by Sublime Porte against the Greeks. This work placed
Delacroix firmly among the Romantic painters. Summer of 1825 he spent
with Bonington in England, acquainting himself with English literature; made
lithograph illustrations for Macbeth and Hamlet and heroes of Sir Walter
Scott and Byron.
In 1828 a series of 17 lithographs illustrating Goethe’s Faust was
published. At the 1828 Salon Delacroix exhibited The Death of
Sardanapalus and The Execution of Marino Faliero. In his Liberty
Leading the People (28 July 1830) Delacroix expressed his emotions and
understanding of the July Revolution of 1830.
In 1832, Delacroix spent 6 months in North Africa, in the retinue
of the Count Charles de Mornay, Ambassador to the Sultan of Morocco, abd
er-Rugman. The life and customs of the Arabs fascinated him and were
to inspire many paintings: The Fanatics of Tangier (1837-1838), The Sultan
of Morocco and His Entourage (1845), The Lion Hunt in Morocco (1854), Arab
Saddling His Horse (1855). In 1833-1837 Delacroix received many
commissions for portraits, decorated the King's Chamber in the Palais
Bourbon: Frescoes on the west wall (1833-1837). His Women of Algiers in
Their Apartment (1834) was a great success at the 1834 Salon.
In 1838-1844 he decorated the library of the Chambre des Deputes and the Chambre des Pairs in the Palais du Luxembourg, as well as the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament at Saint-Denis; he continued to exhibit at the Salon; The Shipwreck of Don Juan (1840), Medea about to Kill Her Children (1838), The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople (1840). In 1850-51 he decorated the ceiling of the Apollo Gallery in the Louvre: Apollo Slays Python (1850-1851). In 1855 he exhibited 48 paintings at the Universal Exposition in Paris. On his eighth attempt he was made a member of the Academy. His health worsened, he could no longer work and spent much time in the country. On 13 August 1863 he died.
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