Delacroix, (Ferdinand Victor) Eugène (1798-1863), French painter
, born at Charenton-Saint Maurice, died in Paris
Delacroix's most famous work is the allegorical representation of the French revolution entitled "Liberty Leading the People", in which the bare-breasted, neo-classical Liberty is carrying the French colours and a musket and wearing the rather jaunty cap very much associated with the revolutionary French bourgeoisie.
This work is a good example of all the things that made Delacroix a successful and respected painter throughout his artistic light: the classical influence, the bold use of colour, the contrasting and dramatic light-and-shade effects (Delacroix was hailed as the French heir to Tintoretto, one of the great Italian ciaroscuro masters), the sense of energetic movement and teh painstaking brushwork.
Delacroix was indeed educated in the then-popular French formal neo-classical tradition in the style of (most and foremost) Jacques-Louis David, but he was also strongly influenced by the great masters of the Renaissance, in particular Michaelangelo, of whom he wrote: "Familiarity with the work of Michelangelo has exalted and elevated every subsequent generation of painters".
Despite these powerful influences, Delacroix has a style all his own which can only be described as Romantic - very much in keeping with the contemporary fashions in music and poetry. He was himself in turn an influence on the Impressionists, who imitated his use of small, precise brush strokes to create a luminous and vibrant effect.
In his later life, and after a trip to North Africa, Delacroix was fascinated by Eastern opulence and richness of texture in painting. He excelled, perhaps like no other, inportraying with great sensuousness all the riches of his Oriental subject matter - skin, jewels, fabrics, furs and feathers, water, shiny metals and carved woods. The pictures in this style are technically very impressive, and not devoid of a certain material sensuality, but are often lacking in the romantic energy and fervor he had originally become famous for.