(See ''The Death of Sardanapalus'' on our French page)
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) was a French Romantic painter, who was regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school.
As a painter and muralist, 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 Symbolist movement.
A fine lithographer, Delacroix illustrated various works of William Shakespeare, the Scottish author Walter Scott and the German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
In contrast to the Neoclassical perfectionism of his chief rival Ingres, Delacroix took for his inspiration the art of Rubens and painters of the Venetian Renaissance, with an attendant emphasis on color and movement rather than clarity of outline and carefully modeled form.
Dramatic and romantic content characterized the central themes of his maturity and led him not to the classical models of Greek and Roman art, but to travel in North Africa, in search of the exotic.
A friend and spiritual heir to Théodore Géricault, Delacroix was also inspired by Lord Byron, with whom he shared a strong identification with the "forces of the sublime", of nature in often violent action.
However, Delacroix was given to neither sentimentality nor bombast, and his Romanticism was that of an individualist. In the words of Baudelaire, "Delacroix was passionately in love with passion, but coldly determined to express passion as clearly as possible."
Eugène Delacroix died in Paris on August 13th, 1863.