Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Eugene Delacroix - The Master of Color

Ferdinand Eugene Victor Delacroix was a French painter largely known for his impact on the Romantic movement of art. His works tend to forgo clarity of outlines and instead emphasize color and movement. His expressive brushstrokes bring out the subject of his paintings with extreme visual clarity. The result of his artistic methods is paintings with rich, vivid color palettes.

Self portrait by Eugene Delacroix, 1837

A common occurrence with Delacroix is the impact of his travels on his works. His visit to Morocco seems especially influential on his late works. For example, his work Fanatics of Tangier, was based on a riot incited by a Muslim sect that he witnessed in Tangier, Morocco. Similarly, many of his other works in the late 1830s were sketches of scenes from Tangier. These subjects are those that Delacroix found himself returning to. For example, works like The Lion Hunt (1861) or Arab Saddling His Horse (1855) are later works that have clearly drawn influence from his travels.

Arab Saddling His Horse, 1855
Fanatics of Tangier, 1838

These works are very representative of the early 19th century Romantic style. Rather than using literary or historic subjects as in the Neoclassical style, Romanticists such as Delacroix captured the zeitgeist of their current times. Although his late works are essential to the Romantic style, Delacroix's most influential was Liberty Leading the People in 1830. In this work, Delacroix depicts a scene from the July Revolution of 1830, resulting in an uprising that crowned Louis Philippe I, nicknamed Citizen's King.

Liberty Leading the People, 1830

The image itself is of Parisians fighting under the tricolor flag that represents liberty, equality, and solidarity. Delacroix was inspired by the events and captured the spirit of liberty that tries convey the will of the French people. In contrast to the armed men and dead lying around her, the female figure is a device used to convey the idea of liberty.

I have long been a fan of Romantic art and Delacroix, one of its leaders. Most attractive is the bright and lively imagery. As I discussed, Romanticism tends to depict events contemporary to the artist's time, acting like a window into the past. Seeing the everyday events of a time long past is an interesting experience that draws me to the style of Delacroix.




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