from The New Book of Knowledge®
Eugène Delacroix was a leader of romantic painting in the 1800's. Throughout his life he painted the way he wanted to paint and paved the way for other artists to try new styles. He also became famous for his writings, especially his Journal.
Delacroix was born near Paris on April 26, 1798. As a boy he attended drawing classes and showed talent in writing and music. When he was orphaned at 16, Delacroix had to select a career. He chose art.
Unlike most other painters of his time, Delacroix used rich, bright colors to illustrate tragic scenes, and his drawing was not exact and detailed. Critics attacked his work. They said that his colors were too splashy and that his drawing was not realistic enough. Few people bought his pictures, but Delacroix would not change his manner of painting.
Delacroix went to Morocco in 1832. There he filled his sketchbooks with drawings of the North African desert, Arabs in flowing robes, lions, and horses. He used these drawings for some of his greatest paintings.
Upon his return to Paris, Delacroix became a celebrity. People liked to hear about his adventures in North Africa. But few could appreciate his paintings until other artists began to paint in his romantic style. Gradually Delacroix's work gained admirers, and Delacroix became one of the most popular painters in France. He died in Paris on August 13, 1863.
The journal that Delacroix began to keep when he was 24 is valued as a work of literature as well as a record of Delacroix's life and his thoughts on art. His other writings include articles and several volumes of letters.
Reviewed by Edward J. Sullivan
New York University