Storia dell'Arte

Eugène Delacroix: periods and commissions, art and biography

Eugène Delacroix born in 1798 and disappears as sparkling star in the firmament of Painting in 1863.

He lives in France, in Paris, therefore in the same period of his friend Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) younger than him of around twenty years, he crosses the older Théodore Géricault (1791-1824) the one who carries the teaching of the great masters Ingres e David; he is contemporary of Jean-François Millet (1814 -1875) younger as well, of sixtheen years, and really highly valued by him. Those three we are counting are the main of Realism, Painting movement of the xix century, politically lined up and recognisable for the intent to greatest extend realise truthful paintings in which there is neither any dreamlike transfiguration nor idealisation, in which the tell for image would exclusively involve the every day life, preferably agricultural one. Movement which Delacroix can not surely totally deny.

By the way for Realism Delacroix never shows enthusiasm, he rejects it markedly, due to his aristocrat birth. In other words while he considers the Realism to be properly valuate and to be admirate in the aim to give light to rural world, he will never pleantly participate in. With Realism -common in France in the period of Delacroix and with which he indirectly has to compete- Delacroix has in common the great attention for “nature painting” and no else. He further studies nature painting by himself during the many trips of which his life is sprinkled. Romanticism instead is the movement that helps Delacroix to express his talent and the same that we see mixed to a shaded Realist attention in the painting of far regions as Morocco, painted in the canvas named Une rue a Meknés, realised during the trip with the diplomatic count of Mornay in Nord Africa, 1932.

Une rue a Meknes-painted by Delacroix

ROMANTIC PAINTER

Eugène is already plenty allined to Romanticism from 1825 after the voyage in England. The living had been determined by several reasons: in Paris he had the occasion to see paintings of the two English painters John Constable and Thomas Lawrence; the commerce of English art was stronger than the French one; finally the started in France friendship with the two joungs English Bonington and Fielding. And the heart of the travel: the freedom that Delacroix was feeling in the English artistic production of the Romantic epoch: less bounded to hierachies between pictorial genres despite of French one, it has the freedom to express feelings, briefly, able to show emotions.

By the way the distinctive trait of Delacroix is the hiconographic archive of his own. During the three main periods we usually divide the artistic life of Eugène, we see the reproposition under different tones and slight variations of a submerged iconographic alphabet of his Painting that he reorder and renew. Here it is – in our opinion- the freshness of the exibition itinerary currently on going in Paris, the first retrospective of the French master from 1963- is evident in the capability to put side by side Delacroix paintings – freely despite the chronological order and with an exibition on subjects casually ordered or ordered on a biographic (life tell) hint.

THE ICONOGRAPHIC ARCHIVE

Once we consider that Delacroix stores images from his studies of Literature (i.e. he reads William Shakespeare, Walter Scott, …, Dante Alighieri) in order to be able to refresh his impressions during his career, it’s clear that the chronological order is hard to refer. The thematical order stays in a chronological disorder. Then the comprehension of the sequence of his artwork is supposed to be creative! Or otherwise it is necessary to consider an univoque trait of Delacroix artistic personality that he realises spending the whole career.

His studies of Art History are remarkably visible in Delacroix’s paintings, and once again everything was already shed in the French artist from the early years of its activity. i.e. Italians and the Flemish knew since the 20’s – Dante and Virgil (realised in 1822) recalls Rubens- but it’s only after 1939 -when for the first time Delacroix had been visited the Flanders, place were Rubens paintings has been exibiting- that the explosive force of the Flemish unmistakable perspires from his canvases, i.e. it could be significant the Lions hunting of 1855.

PERIODS

Delacroix can be studied with an eye to the commissions, the floral period of 1849 is considered linked to the realization of the Galerie d’Apollon, or otherwise for “short periods” in reference to years of exposure to the Salon where he is often present. San Sebastian at the Salon of 1836, rightly raises the question of (stylistic) choices and refers –this year the colors recall Tiziano-. The color of the previous year, when Delacroix exposes Christ on the cross, recalls Rubens and in Women of Algiers (1834) we see Veronese-. As if Messier Delacroix, never satisfied of his choices, keep on trying a new way of painting. The eclecticism of Delacroix which includes among other things also the obsession with the seascape, it is more than clear, evident in the study of the totality of his artistic production. His genius is evident in the studies and in revival of passed masters features from which he is inspired.


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