Eugène Delacroix

Dates1798 - 1863
BornCharenton Saint-Maurice, Val-de-Marne, France
DiedParis, France

Poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire described his hero Eugène Delacroix as "a volcanic crater artistically concealed beneath bouquets of flowers." Beneath the surface of Delacroix's polished elegance and charm roiled turbulent interior emotions. In 1822 Delacroix took the Salon by storm. Although the French artistic establishment considered him a wild man and a rebel, the French government, bought his paintings and commissioned murals throughout Paris. Though Delacroix aimed to balance classicism and Romanticism, his art centered on a revolutionary idea born with the Romantics: that art should be created out of sincerity, that it should express the artist's true feelings and convictions. Educated firmly in the classics, Delacroix often depicted mythological subjects, themes encouraged by the reigning Neoclassical artists at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. But Delacroix's brilliant colors and passionate brushwork frightened them; their watchwords were "noble simplicity and calm grandeur." They barred him from academy membership until 1857, and even then he was prohibited from teaching in the École des Beaux-Arts. For those very reasons, he was an inspiration to the Impressionists and other young artists. Paul Cézanne once said, "We are all in Delacroix." Intensely private, Delacroix kept a journal that is renowned as a profoundly moving record of the artistic experience.