Eugene Delacroix Biography | Oil Painting Reproductions

4-26-1798 Charenton-St-Maurice, FRA - 8-13-1863 Paris, FRA

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Delacroix, Eugene

A champion from the outset of his career of the Romantic cause, Eugene Delacroix was legally the son of a politician but in reality, he was the illegitimate child of Talleyrand, a celebrated diplomat, whom the adult Eugène resembled in appearance and character. He trained under Guerin, a respected Neoclassical painter, but the dominant influence on his style came from Gericault, a fellow pupil.

Eugene Delacroix watched the Gericault creating The Raft of the Medusa, one of the seminal works of the Romantic movement, and was overwhelmed by its raw, emotional power. He swiftly began to emulate this in his own canvasses. Two years later, achieving his breakthrough and popular success with his The Massacre at Chios.

Critics attacked Eugene Delacroix for his apparent fixation with violence and his lack of finish. They accused him of wallowing in scenes of brutality, rather than acts of heroism. In addition, they denounced his pictures as 'sketches', because he abandoned the smooth, linear finish of the Neoclassical style, preferring to build up his compositions with small dabs of color.

Like most Romantics, Delacroix was fascinated with the exotic but, unusually, he actually visited the Arab world. As a result, his Orientalist paintings were more somber and realistic than most European fantasies. The painting Women of Algiers in their Apartment, shows the exotic costumes, cool shadows, soft lighting of the harem, and the languid sexuality and dark skin of the Algerian women make this painting one of the earliest and most important examples of Orientalism, a trend that began in the Romantic period, and continued through the nineteenth century right up to the present. Delacroix, at the height of his maturity, handles an unusual theme redolent with forbidden sensuality.

Liberty Leading the People, Neoclassicism in one painting.

Probably Eugene Delacroix's best-known painting, he painted the pictorial manifesto of Romanticism, Liberty Leading the People is an unforgettable image of Parisian's, having taken up arms, marching forward under the banner of the tricolor representing liberty, equality, and fraternity. But the heroine, who is the personification of liberated France, is portrayed semi-nude, wearing a Phrygian cap (emblem of the French Revolution), with a flag in one hand and a gun in the other. The fruit of an eclectic, Romantic, and literary culture, this canvas is an unusual blend of realism, propaganda, rhetoric and a record of contemporary events of the 1830 revolution against Charles X.

Eugene Delacroix's use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of color profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolism movement.

Art Movement History: Romanticism, Orientalism
Artists Influencing Eugene Delacroix: Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, John Constable, Peter Paul Rubens, Theodore Gericault
He Traveled To England, Spain. Morocco, Algeria

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