By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Delacroix
Author: Konody, Paul G. (Paul George), 1872-1933
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Delacroix" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Illustration: Cover art]







(In the Louvre)

Painted in 1841 for the Gallery at Versailles, whence it was
subsequently removed to the Louvre, this large, dramatic composition
belongs to the period when Delacroix's palette, inspired from the first
by Rubens and Veronese, had assumed increased richness under the
influence of Eastern light and colour.  It is significant of the lack
of appreciation shown to the master by his contemporaries, and even by
his supporters, that the commission was accompanied by the request that
the picture should not look like a Delacroix.






[Illustration: Title page logo]






    I. The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople . . . Frontispiece
           In the Louvre

   II. Algerian Women in their Apartment
           In the Louvre

  III. The Death of Ophelia
           In the Louvre

   IV. The Crucifixion
           In the Louvre

    V. The Bride of Abydos
           In the Louvre

   VI. Dante and Virgil
           In the Louvre

  VII. The Execution of the Doge Marino Faliero
           In the Wallace Collection

 VIII. Faust and Mephistopheles
           In the Wallace Collection

[Illustration: Delacroix]

  "Delacroix, lac de sang, hanté de mauvais anges,
  Ombragé par un daïs de sapins toujours vert,
  Où, sous un ciel chagrin, des fanfares étranges
  Passent comme un soupir étouffé de Weber."
                    --Baudelaire, "Fleurs du Ma1."


To-day, as one examines the ten masterpieces by Delacroix in the Salle
des États at the Louvre--ten pictures which may without fear of
contradiction be asserted to form an epitome of the art of the man who
is now generally acknowledged to be the fountain-head of all modern
art--one can only with difficulty understand the bitter hostility, the
fierce passion, aroused by these works when Delacroix's name was the
battle-cry of the moderns, when Delacroix was the leader of the
numerically small faction which waged heroic war against the inexorable
tyrannic rule of academic art.  What was once considered extreme and
revolutionary, has become what might almost be described as a classic
basis of a revaluation of æsthetic values.  Even Manet's "Olympia," the
starting-point of a more recent artistic upheaval, a picture which on
its first appearance at the Paris Salon of 1865 was received with wild
howls of execration, now falls into line at the Louvre with the other
great masterpieces of painting.  It marks a bold step in the evolution
of modern art, but it is no longer disconcerting to our eyes.  And
Delacroix can no longer be denied classic rank.  To understand the
significance of Delacroix in the art of his country, and the hostility
shown to him by officialdom and by the unthinking public almost during
the whole course of his life, one has to trace back the art of painting
in France to its very birth.  It will then be found that the history of
this art, from the moment when French painting emerges from the
obscurity of the Middle Ages until well into the second half of the
nineteenth century, is a history of an almost uninterrupted struggle
between North and South.

All the efforts of chauvinistic French critics have failed to establish
the existence of an early indigenous school.  Nearly all the early
painters who are mentioned in contemporary documents were Flemings who
had settled in France.  Their art is so closely allied to that of the
Northern Schools, that it is sometimes impossible to establish the
origin of pictures that are traditionally ascribed to French painters.
But at the same time, perhaps in the train of the Popes who had
transferred their Court to Avignon, Italian art began to invade France
from the South.  Simone Martini's frescoes in the Papal Palace at
Avignon certainly left their mark upon the School that arose in the
Provençal city; and gradually traces of Italian influence made
themselves felt in an art that remained Northern in its essential
features.  There is at the National Gallery an early French panel, a
"Scene from the Legend of St. Giles" (No. 1419), which clearly shows
the harmonious blending of the two currents.



(In the Louvre)

This picture was one of the first-fruits of Delacroix's journey to
Morocco with Count Mornay's mission.  It was painted in 1833, the year
after his return to France, commissioned by the State at the price of
3000 frs.  The handling of the upright figure of the negress suggests
Spanish influence, and was in turn obviously well known to Manet when
he painted his "Olympia."



Italianism became paramount in French painting when, in the fourth
decade of the sixteenth century, Rosso and Primaticcio followed the
call of Francis I. and founded the School of Fontainebleau.  From about
1532 right into the nineteenth century, the official art of France,
that is to say, the art favoured by the rulers and encouraged by the
Academy, was based on the imitation of Raphael and the Italians of the
decline--an art that was essentially intellectual, cold, and dominated
by drawing and design, not by colour.  In the reign of Louis XIV., when
Le Brun became the art despot of his country, the foundation of the
Academy, and subsequently of the French School at Rome, led to the
formulating of definite canons of formal beauty and of the "grand
style."  Evolution on these lines was impossible.  French art was only
saved from stagnation by the influence of Northern art, from which it
continued to derive its vitality.  It was saved by painters who, like
Philippe de Champaigne and Watteau, had come from the North, or who,
like the brothers Le Nain, Chardin, Boucher, Fragonard, and finally
Delacroix, had drawn their inspiration either from the Dutchmen or from
Rubens and the Flemings.

During the "grand" century there are only isolated instances of
painters who resisted the tyranny of academic rule and the exclusive
worship of classic antiquity.  But whilst the professional painters
meekly submitted to Le Brun's tyranny, the revolt which was to
transform the art of painting in France in the eighteenth century was
heralded, nay initiated, in the field of polemic literature.  A fierce
battle was waged between the traditional advocates of the supremacy of
line and the champions of colour, or rather of paint that fulfils a
more vital function than the colouring of spaces created by linear
design.  It was the battle of the "Poussinistes" and the "Rubénistes,"
the two factions deriving their names from the great masters whose art
was the supreme embodiment of the two opposed principles: Poussin and
Rubens.  Félibien was the leader of those who espoused the cause of
academic design with superimposed colour as a secondary consideration;
and Roger de Piles became the chief defender of colour as a
constructive element.

The dawn of the eighteenth century, and the advent of Watteau, brought
the signal victory of the Rubénistes.  The pompous style of the
seventeenth century ebbed away with the life of the _grand monarque_.
The new age demanded a new art--the graceful and dainty art of the
boudoir.  At the very outset, Watteau carried the emotional
expressiveness of pigment to a point where it could not be maintained
by his followers and imitators.  He had never been to Italy; and though
he had studied the works of the Venetian colourists, his art was mainly
derived from Flemish sources.  But the Academy continued to send its
most promising pupils to its branch school in Rome, where they were
taught to worship at the shrine of Raphael and his followers, and
whence they returned to continue the tradition of the School.  Thus
Italianism did not die, though it became transformed by the ascendency
of the Rubens influence and by the new social conditions.  Mythology
and allegory continued to rule supreme in the art of Boucher, which is
the most typical expression of the French eighteenth century, but they
are adapted to the decoration of the boudoir, and colour and brushwork
are no longer subordinated to design.  Boucher, the most French of all
French painters, is inconceivable without two centuries of the Italian
tradition of design and without Rubens's example of handling paint.  In
the art of Fragonard, that great virtuoso of the brush, the influence
of Rubens becomes absolutely paramount.  Only a few youthful failures
recall his study of the Italians.

Fragonard witnessed the end of the _ancien régime_ and the great
political upheaval of the French Revolution.  With the monarchy died
the sensuous art of the _fêtes galantes_.  The painting that flourished
in the Napoleonic era was more formal, cold, and academic than at any
previous epoch.  David and his followers sought their inspiration in
Roman history, and set purity of line and the dogmas of the School
higher than ever.  Their idealism was of a bombastic, rhetorical order;
their painting absolutely uninspired tinting of pseudo-classic designs.
At no period had French art sunk to such a level of dulness.  The death
of David left his great pupil Ingres, the most perfect draughtsman of
the nineteenth century, the undisputed leader of the School.  But the
day of freedom was at hand--and the liberating word was to be
pronounced by Delacroix.  The seventeenth-century war between the
"Poussinistes" and the "Rubénistes" was to be resumed, although the two
parties were now re-christened "Classicists" and "Romanticists."  But
this time the war was one of deeds, and not of words.  Ingres was the
leader of an army; Delacroix fought almost single-handed.  And, for
once, victory did not favour the large battalions.


Eugène Delacroix, who was born on the 7th Floréal of the year VI., as
the Republican calendar has it, or the 26th April 1798, according to
our own reckoning, belonged to a distinguished family.  His father,
Charles Delacroix, an ardent Republican, who had voted for the death of
his king, took a very active part in the political life of his country,
and filled successively the posts of Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Ambassador to Vienna, Departmental Prefect, and Ambassador to the
Batavian Republic.  His mother, Victoire, was the daughter of Boulle's
pupil, the famous cabinetmaker Oeben, and was connected by family links
with the even more illustrious Riesener.  His brother, Charles Henri,
achieved fame in the Napoleonic campaigns, was created Baron of the
Empire in 1810, and became Quartermaster-General in 1815.  The military
career was also adopted by his other brother Henri, who fell at
Friedland in 1807.  His sister married Raymond de Verninac, who became
Prefect of the Rhône and subsequently Ambassador to the Swiss Republic.

Delacroix was not an infant prodigy.  He showed none of that
irresistible early impulse towards art which is so often discovered by
posthumous biographers of great masters.  Indeed, his inclinations
tended more towards music; and at one time he thought of adopting a
military career.  Even when, at the age of seventeen, he left college
to enter Guérin's studio, he was by no means determined to devote
himself exclusively to painting.  There was not much sympathy between
master and pupil.  The impetuous youth, with his keen sense of the
dramatic and romantic, and his passionate love of music, even if his
emotionalism was held in check by intellectuality, felt repelled by the
icy coldness of the man in whom the teaching of David had stifled any
personal talent he may have possessed.  And Delacroix soon found that
he could learn more from copying Rubens, Raphael, and Titian at the
Louvre than from Guerin's dry instruction.  Moreover, he had the good
fortune of gaining the friendship of his fellow-student, Géricault,
who, inspired by a spirit akin to that of Delacroix, had already broken
away from the tradition of the School, and who heralded the dawn of a
new era with his intensely dramatic and almost revolutionary "Raft of
the Medusa."  Delacroix himself tells in his Journal that he was so
powerfully impressed by the intense realism of his friend's work, that
on leaving the studio he ran through the streets like a madman.  How
much he benefited by Géricault's example became clear when his "Dante
and Virgil" appeared at the Salon of 1822, raising its author with a
single bound to fame.

Delacroix's mother died in 1819.  His small heritage was swallowed up
by a lawsuit.  His position would have been desperate, but for the help
of Géricault, who procured him a commission for an altarpiece for the
Convent of the Ladies of the Sacred Heart at Nantes.  There is no trace
of his later Romanticist fire in this altarpiece, and in the "Vierge
des Maisons" for the church of Orcemont, which dates from the same
period.  Both pictures are based on the study of Raphael.  Among
Delacroix's intimates of these early days was the English painter,
Thales Fielding, from whom he not only acquired his knowledge of the
art of water-colour painting--then scarcely practised in France--but
who awakened or strengthened in him the taste for English literature
and especially for Shakespeare and Byron.

With the "Dante and Virgil" of 1822, Delacroix definitely dissociated
himself from the frigid, lifeless tradition of the David School, of
which Ingres was soon to become the acknowledged leader.  "That School
of Ingres," Delacroix once expressed himself on one of those rare
occasions when he broke through his habitual reticence concerning his
critical views on his contemporaries, "wants to make painting a
dependency of the antiquaries; it is pretentious archæology; these are
not pictures."  "Cameos are not made," he wrote on another occasion,
"to be put into painting; everything ought to keep its proper place."

The "Dante and Virgil" was his first pictorial protest against the rule
of cold classicism.  To-day we may be surprised that a picture so
balanced in design, so sober in colour, so sculpturally plastic in the
modelling of the human form, could have been considered in any way
revolutionary and should have evoked such violent abuse as was showered
upon it by the Davidists.  But turn from this "Dante" to David's "Oath
of the Horatii" and "Leonidas," which may be taken to typify the
artistic standard of the time, and you will grasp the full significance
of Delacroix's bold step.  True, Géricault had already followed similar
aims with his "Raft of the Medusa"; but this astounding picture, a
record of a disaster which was then still fresh in the people's memory,
was considered rather as a magnificent piece of pictorial journalism
than as a work to be judged by the canons of the "grand style."



(In the Louvre)

This is one, and perhaps the most successful of many slightly varying
versions of the same subject, which the artist first lithographed in
1834 and painted in 1838.  The Louvre picture was executed in 1838.
Delacroix, from his school days to his death, was an ardent admirer of
Shakespeare's genius, and was deeply impressed by the Shakesperian
productions which he witnessed during his short sojourn in London.



The case of Delacroix was different.  He had dared to bring passion and
intense dramatic expressiveness into a subject taken from literature.
He had chosen a mediæval poet, instead of going back to classic
antiquity.  And he had used pigment as it was not used by any of his
contemporaries.  He had used it in truly painter-like fashion, making
the colour itself contribute to the emotional appeal of the drama and
giving to the actual brushwork functional value in the building up of
form.  The writhing bodies of the Damned surrounding the boat and
gleaming lividly through the terrible gloom are painted with a superb
mastery which recalled to Thiers "the boldness of Michelangelo and the
fecundity of Rubens," and which made Gros exclaim, "This is Rubens

The outcry raised by the Davidists did not prevent the Government from
purchasing the picture for the not very formidable amount of £50.  The
artist thus honoured and acclaimed a genius by the most competent
judges was in the same year placed last among sixty candidates in a
competition for one of the School prizes!  Henceforth Delacroix
abstained from exposing himself to such rebuffs.  Even Gros' tempting
offer to prepare him at his studio for the coveted Prix de Rome could
not shake his determination.  He continued to work independently,
gaining his bare livelihood by caricatures and lithographic
illustrations of no particular distinction.  He never went to Italy;
and it is worthy of note that herein he followed the rare example of
the two greatest _painters_ of his country: both Watteau and Chardin
had kept clear of Rome and its baneful influence.

The horrors of the Greek War of Independence provided Delacroix with a
magnificent subject in the "Massacre of Scio," which he sent to the
Salon of 1824.  Here was indeed rank defiance of those rules of "the
beautiful" in art which had been formulated by the School of David, and
which even in a scene of bloodshed and horror expected heroic poses and
the theatrical grouping of the "grand style."  Delacroix had dared to
depict hideous death in the agonised face of the woman with the child
on the right of the picture, blank despair verging on insanity in the
old woman by her side, the languor of approaching death in the limp
form of the man in the centre.  He had arranged his composition
contrary to all accepted rules; he had painted it with the fire of an
inspired colourist.  The glitter of light and atmosphere was spread
over the receding landscape and sky--Delacroix had seen Constable's
"Hay Wain" and two other works by the English master at this very
Salon.  They came to him as a revelation.  He obtained permission to
withdraw his picture for a few days, and--so the story goes--completely
repainted it with incredible rapidity.  The truth is probably that
under the impulse of the profound impression created upon him by
Constable's art, he added certain touches and extensive glazes to the
background.  In this connection it is interesting to note that M.
Cheramy, whose magnificent collection includes a superbly painted study
of the dead mother and child for the "Massacre of Scio," has bequeathed
this important fragment to the National Gallery, on condition that it
shall hang "beside the best Constable."

The "Massacre of Scio" was violently attacked as an outrage against
good taste, but found a warm defender in the Baron Gérard, and was
again bought by the Government for £320.  It may not be out of place
here to state that there is but scant justification for the
often-repeated assertion that Delacroix's rare genius did not receive
official recognition until very late in the master's life, and that he
was not given his fair share of official commissions.  We have seen
that, in spite of the outcry raised by the academic faction, the
Government encouraged the young artist by acquiring the first two
pictures exhibited by him at the Salon.  At brief intervals he
continued to receive important commissions: for the "Death of Charles
the Bold," from the Ministry of the Interior; the great battle-piece
"Taillebourg," for the gallery at Versailles; the decoration of the
Chamber of Deputies, of the Libraries at the Luxembourg and the Palais
Bourbon, of the Salon de la Paix at the Hôtel de Ville, of a chapel in
the Church of Saint Sulpice; a wall-painting in the Church of St.
Denis; the "St. Sebastian" for the Church of Nantua; and the ceiling of
the Galerie d'Apollon at the Louvre--not to speak of the numerous works
commissioned or bought from him by Louis-Philippe.  Thus, it will be
seen, there was no lack of "official recognition," although it is quite
true that to within a few years of his death he was generally forced to
accept wholly inadequate prices for his paintings.


Delacroix's friendship with Thales Fielding and Bonington and his love
of English romantic literature had awakened in him the desire to visit
London.  He undertook the little journey in 1825.  He was much
impressed by the immensity of London, the "absence of all that we call
architecture," the horses and carriages, the river, Richmond, and
Greenwich; and, above all, by the English stage.  He had occasion to
admire the great Kean in some of his Shakespearian impersonations, and
Terry as Mephistopheles in an adaptation of "Faust."  He was deeply
stirred by these productions, which had a by no means beneficial
influence upon his art.  To his love of the stage may be ascribed the
least acceptable characteristics of his minor pictures and
lithographs--exaggerated action, stage grouping, and a certain lack of
restraint.  It is difficult to understand Goethe's highly eulogistic
comment upon Delacroix's "Faust" illustrations, unless it was a case of
_faute de mieux_, or that he had not seen the complete set.  To modern
eyes, at any rate, they are the epitome of the master's weaknesses.
The drawing is frequently inexcusably bad; the sentiment is carried
beyond the merely theatrical to the melodramatic.

Next to the stage, he was interested by the works of the contemporary
British artists, with many of whom he entered into personal relations.
In his letters he expressed the keenest admiration not only for
Bonington (with whom he shared a studio in the following year),
Constable, and Turner, whose influence upon the French School he
readily admitted, but also for Lawrence--"the flower of politeness and
truly a painter of princes ... he is inimitable"--and for Wilkie, whose
sketches and studies he declared to be beyond praise, although "he
spoils regularly all the beautiful things he has done" in the process
of finishing the pictures.

Unfortunately the principal work painted by Delacroix in the year after
his return from England, the "Justinian Composing the Institutes," for
the interior of the Conseil d'État, perished by fire in 1871.  The
Salon was only reopened, after an interval of two years, in 1827, when
Delacroix was represented by no fewer than twelve paintings, including
"The Death of Sardanapalus," "Marino Faliero," and "Christ in the
Garden of Olives."  The extreme daring, the tempestuous passionate
disorder of the design of the large "Sardanapalus" alienated from him
even the few enlightened spirits who had espoused his cause on the two
former occasions.  The reception of the picture was disastrous.
Delacroix himself admitted that the first sight of his canvas at the
exhibition had given him a severe shock.  "I hope," he wrote to a
friend, "that people won't look at it through my eyes."  The picture
raised a hurricane of abuse.  His own significant dictum that "you
should begin with a broom and finish with a needle," was turned against
him by a critic who spoke of the work of an "intoxicated broom."
Another described him as a "drunken savage," and yet another referred
to the picture as the "composition of a sick man in delirium."  His
other pictures were scarcely noticed, although they included a
masterpiece like the "Marino Faliero" (now in the Wallace Collection),
which Delacroix himself held to be one of his finest achievements, and
which certainly rivals the great Venetians in harmonious sumptuousness
of colour.  In this picture Delacroix is intensely dramatic without
being theatrical.  Nothing could be more impressive than the massing of
light on the empty marble staircase, the grand figure of the
executioner, the statuesque immobility of the nobles assembled at the
head of the staircase.  The picture was exhibited in London in 1828,
when it was warmly eulogised, which is the more remarkable as Delacroix
never seemed to appeal strongly to British taste--the scarcity of his
works in our public and private collections may be adduced as proof.

It was on the occasion of this 1827 Salon that the terms "Romanticism"
and "Romanticists" first came into general use.  Their exact definition
is not an easy matter.  Broadly speaking, the romantic movement in
literature, music, and painting signifies the accentuation of human
emotions and passions in art, as opposed to the classic ideal of purity
of form.  Delacroix himself did not wish to be identified with any
group or movement, but in the eyes of the public he stood as the leader
of the Romanticists in painting, just as Victor Hugo, with whom he had
but little sympathy, did in literature.



(In the Louvre)

This small panel, which forms part of the Thomas Thiery bequest to the
Louvre, is a picture of precious quality and soft colouring, painted
for his friend, Mme. de Forget, who had exercised her influence in
official quarters when Delacroix endeavoured to obtain the post of
director of the Gobelins manufactory.  It was painted in 1848.  There
are numerous replicas in existence.



Delacroix's "Sardanapalus" led to humiliations that he felt more keenly
than the abuse showered upon him by the Press.  He was sent for by
Sosthene de la Rochefoucauld, then Director of the Beaux-Arts, to be
advised in all seriousness to study drawing from casts of the antique,
and to change his style if he had any aspirations to official
encouragement.  The threat had no effect upon a man of Delacroix's
strength of conviction.  He yielded never an inch.  He continued to
follow the promptings of his artistic conscience which permitted no
concessions, no compromise.  During the very next year, in spite of De
la Rochefoucauld's threat, the State commissioned from him the painting
of "The Death of Charles the Bold at the Battle of Nancy" (now at the
Nancy Museum).  The picture was not finished and exhibited before 1834,
when this magnificently conceived scene of wild conflict under a
threatening winter sky--so different from the grandiloquous style of
the painters of the Napoleonic epopee--met with the usual chorus of
disapprobation for being historically incorrect, "as bad as could be in
drawing," "incredibly dirty in colour"--the horses bad as regards
anatomy, the sky impossible!

Although Delacroix was too completely absorbed in his art, which--his
one great passion--took up his entire life, to take any active part in
politics, he was deeply stirred by the events of the July Revolution of
1830.  "The 28th July 1830," or "The Barricade," one of the nine works
by which he was represented at the Salon of 1831, was an unmistakable
confession of his political faith.  Here, for once, Delacroix found his
moving drama not in romance or in the history of the past, nor in the
picturesque East which, owing to its comparative remoteness and
inaccessibility at a time that did not enjoy the prosaic advantages of
a Cook's Agency, was still invested with the glamour of romance; for
once he devoted himself to the reality of contemporary life, even
though the daring departure into realism was thinly veiled by the
introduction of that rather unfortunate allegorical figure of Liberty
with her clumsy draperies and badly painted tricolour flag.  The
top-hat and frock-coat, hitherto considered incompatible with a grand
pictorial conception, enter with triumphant defiance into the painter's
art; and they detract nothing from the epic grandeur of this truly
historical composition.  In many ways "The Barricade" was more daringly
unconventional than any of the earlier pictures which had stamped
Delacroix as a revolutionary.  Yet its success was immediate and final.
That the artist was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honour, was
perhaps a recognition of his political sympathies rather than of his
artistry.  But this time Delacroix found favour with the public and the

At the same Salon was to be seen another of Delacroix's most striking
masterpieces, "The Assassination of the Bishop of Liège," for which he
had found the subject in Sir Walter Scott's "Quentin Durward," and
which was painted for Louis-Philippe, then Duke of Orleans.  It is a
marvellously vivid realisation of this terrific scene.  "Who would ever
have thought that one could paint noise and tumult?" wrote Théophile
Gautier in his enthusiastic appreciation of this work.  "Movement is
all very well, but this little canvas howls, yells, and blasphemes!"
The realisation of the wild and sanguinary orgy described by Scott is
complete and absolute; and yet, in the long list of Delacroix's
"illustrative" pictures, there is none that is so strictly pictorial in
conception and less tied to the letter of the author's description.  It
is not so much the detail, the personal action of each participator in
the drama, upon which the artist depends to tell this ferocious tale of
unbridled passion, but the atmosphere of vague terror, the mysterious
gloom of the lofty hall, the flaring flames of the torches, the flashes
of brilliant reflections thrown up from the luminous centre provided by
the white tablecloth, of the importance of which Delacroix was well
aware when he said one evening to his friend Villot: "To-morrow I shall
attack that cursed tablecloth which will be my Austerlitz or my
Waterloo."  It was his Austerlitz.



(In the Louvre)

A great reader of English literature, Delacroix found the inspiration
for many remarkable paintings in the works of Byron, who was one of the
idols of the French Romanticists.  As was his wont, Delacroix produced
several versions of this subject, which shows Zuleika trying to prevent
Selim from giving the signal to his comrades.  A smaller variant,
painted like the Louvre picture in 1843, and measuring only 14 in. by
10 in., realised the high price of £1282 at public auction in 1874.



"The Assassination of the Bishop of Liège" was painted in 1829, the
same year to which we owe that superbly handled and strangely
fascinating auto-portrait of the artist at the Louvre, which he left to
his faithful servant, Jenny le Guillou, on condition that she should
give it to the Louvre on the day when the Orleans family were to gain
once more possession of the throne.  This event did not come to pass,
but the picture nevertheless reached its final destination by gift of
Mme. Durieu in 1872.  Delacroix's strangely fascinating personality is
completely revealed in this masterpiece of artistic auto-biography.  In
every feature it recalls that famous description of the master given by
Baudelaire in his series of critical essays, "L'Art Romantique":--

"He was all energy, but energy derived from the nerves and the will;
for, physically, he was frail and delicate.  The tiger, watching its
prey, has less light in its eyes and has less impatient quivering in
its muscles, than could be perceived in our great painter when with his
whole soul he flung himself on an idea or endeavoured to seize a dream.
The very physical character of his physiognomy, his Peruvian or Malay
complexion; his eyes which were large and black but had narrowed owing
to the habit of half closing them when fixing an object, and seemed to
test the light; his abundant and glossy hair; his obstinate forehead;
his tight-drawn lips to which the perpetual tension of the will had
given a cruel expression--in a word, his whole person suggested the
thought of an exotic origin."

It is interesting to note how completely this vivid description of the
mature man tallies not only with the painted portrait of Delacroix at
the age of thirty-one, but with another description of the adolescent,
left by his college friend, Philarète Chasle, who speaks of him as "a
lad, with olive-hued forehead, flashing eyes, a mobile face with
prematurely sunken cheeks, abundant wavy black hair, betraying southern


The _légion d'honneur_ was not the only reward that attended
Delacroix's success at the Salon of 1831.  He received permission to
accompany, at the expense of the Government, Count Mornay's mission to
Morocco, which set out in January of the following year.  To visit the
East had been the dream of Delacroix's life.  Its fulfilment marked an
important step in the evolution of his art.  Now at last he was brought
into actual contact with that life and colour of the romantic East
which had for so many years been pictured by his vivid imagination.  He
was away altogether about six months, and much of this time was spent
_en route_ and in Spain which he visited on his home journey, so that
it was obviously impossible for him to undertake any works on an
ambitious scale during his sojourn in Africa.  But he never interrupted
his feverish activity, and brought back with him a whole series of
sketch-books filled with pictorial and literary notes to which he had
many an occasion to refer when, after his return to the daily routine
of his Paris life, he proceeded upon embodying his new experience of
brilliant light, sumptuous colour, and picturesque life in a long
succession of paintings devoted to Eastern subjects.

Delacroix's Moroccan sketch-books, which are among the treasured
possessions of the Louvre, constitute one of the most interesting
documents ever left by artist's hand.  There is always a peculiar
fascination about an artist's self-revelations in moments when his mind
is far away from the public to whom he directs his appeal in his
finished pictures.  And these sketch-books were intended for no eyes
but his own.  They contain a diary of his progress day by day, vivid
impressions of land and people, interspersed with accounts and notes of
purchases, and through all the pages run his swiftly sketched,
brilliant pictorial notes, set down with the sureness of long
experience and practice--sketches of scenery, life, types of natives
and animals, architectural details and details of costumes, jotted down
with any material that happened to be handy.  Some are sketched in pure
colour-washes in bold flat masses, some in pencil or pen and ink
heightened with strong blobs of water-colour, others in pure outline;
and generally they are accompanied by explanatory notes hastily
scribbled in pencil.  Throughout is to be noted the same swift
impulsiveness and definiteness of purpose, the utmost expressiveness
obtained by the greatest economy of means.  There are some slight
thumb-nail sketches--I can recall one in particular of a galloping
Bedouin Arab--that verge on the miraculous in the sense of life and
movement, the summing up of all the essentials by means of a few
strokes of the pen of almost niggardly paucity.

But infinitely more important in its bearing upon his future work than
all the tangible yield of this fruitful journey, was the retention by
Delacroix's memory of the brilliant colour visions which had met his
delighted eyes in the dazzling light of the East.  The result was an
entirely new conception of chromatic effects and an infinitely more
sensuous use of his pigments than is to be found in any of his earlier
works.  Before his journey to Morocco, Delacroix, though already
essentially a colourist in his method if compared with the draughtsmen
of the David-Ingres School, paid but little attention to the quality of
paint _per se_.  Colour served him to enhance the dramatic
effectiveness of his compositions, and pigment had assumed a vital
function in the building up of forms; but he was still addicted to an
excessive use of bituminous browns and warm glazes and paid little or
no attention to what the modern studio jargon terms the "preciousness
of paint."  With the "Algerian Women in their Apartment," which he sent
to the Salon of 1834, he entered upon an entirely new phase.  It is
painted in a rich impasto of luminous colours which sparkle in unbroken
strength through an ambient of soft silvery grey atmosphere.  The very
choice of subject indicates a significant change.  In the place of
dramatic climax or tempestuous movement and passion and violent
emotion, we find here complete repose and the indolent lassitude
engendered by the luxurious comfort and by the strong scent of burning
spices in the Eastern harem.  In a subject of this kind the artist
could allow himself to yield completely to the sensuous enjoyment of
the rare and at the time entirely novel harmonies of pure, beautiful
colour evolved by his brush.  The superbly painted negress on the right
of the composition undoubtedly owes much to the Spanish masters whom
Delacroix must have studied during his brief visit to the Peninsula;
and there is as little doubt that she in turn became the progenitor of
the wonderful negress in Manet's "Olympia."  Indeed, Delacroix at this
stage must be considered Manet's precursor and source of inspiration.

The "Algerian Women" was a State commission for which Delacroix was
paid the absurdly inadequate sum of £120.  His indignation was great
when he learnt that a higher value had been put upon a worse than
mediocre picture by Decaisne.  He almost refused to deliver the
picture, but was eventually reconciled by the placing with him of a
more important commission, namely, "The Entry of the Crusaders into
Constantinople" for the Gallery of Versailles.  He was given the
commission--but he was at the same time informed that the King wanted a
picture which did "not look like a Delacroix"!  This picture, which is
now at the Louvre, was first shown at the Salon of 1841, and is
undoubtedly one of the finest works of the master's maturity.  One has
only to compare it with "The Massacre of Scio"--in many ways a kindred
subject--to realise the master's prodigious advance during the
intervening years.  The earlier picture, in spite of its undeniably
fine qualities, cannot compare with "The Crusaders" as regards subdued
splendour of colour.  Delacroix himself admitted that the idea of "The
Massacre" came to him in front of Gros's "The Plague-stricken at
Jaffa."  "J'ai mal lavé la palette de Gros," was the wording of his own
confession.  There is no trace of Gros in the sumptuous scheme of "The
Crusaders," and the violent expression of his youthful sense of the
dramatic is toned down by a note of sympathetic sadness in the
principal figure, accentuated by the unconventional massing of shadow
over the group which occupies the centre of the composition.

In the year after his return from Morocco, Delacroix was, largely
through the influence of M. Thiers, entrusted with the decoration of
the Salon du Roi, at the Palais Bourbon, and thus given the first
opportunity for a display of his decorative genius which, whatever has
been said to the contrary, was generously acknowledged by his
contemporaries, and was given ample scope from 1833 to the time of his
death in 1863.  But before discussing his architectural decorations it
may be as well to sketch in brief outline the course of the remaining
years of his life--a life of ceaseless productive energy, interrupted
only by spells of illness, but otherwise strangely uneventful.  After
the references in the preceding pages of the important pictures which
constitute, as it were, the landmarks in Delacroix's career, it would
be as impossible as it is superfluous to describe, or even to
enumerate, the masterpieces produced year by year by his indefatigable
brush.  A volume of considerable bulk would be needed for a mere list,
for, according to Robaut's statement at the beginning of his catalogue:
"Eugène Delacroix has left about 9140 works, of which number 853 are
paintings, 1525 pastels, water-colours, or wash-drawings, 6629
drawings, 24 engravings, 109 lithographs, and over 60 albums!"



(In the Louvre)

This is the great picture with which Delacroix, then twenty-four years
of age, made his debut at the Salon of 1822.  The dramatic power of the
central group and the frenzied movement and superb modelling of the
nude figures clinging to the boat, caused an immense sensation with a
public accustomed to the frigid classicism of the David School.
Unfortunately the picture is now badly cracked and discoloured,
probably owing to the use of bituminous pigment, which Delacroix only
discarded at a later period.



Whether it be due to his unshaken perseverance on the path he had
chosen from the very outset, or to the waning interest caused by the
wearing off of the novelty, Delacroix's art was now more readily
accepted, or, at any rate, discussed without the bitterness of the
early attacks.  Nevertheless, even now, and indeed to the end of his
life, he could only obtain wretched prices for his pictures, and the
Academy remained implacably hostile, until the special collection of
his principal works at the International Exhibition of 1855 brought him
at last that general public applause that had till then been denied to
him.  Delacroix himself showed no bitterness to the Academy, and
presented himself time after time for election, his claims being
invariably couched in terms as modest as they were dignified.  His
first attempt was in 1837, when the votes were cast in favour of
Schnetz.  Two vacancies occurred in 1838, and on both occasions
Delacroix knocked at the doors of the Academy, but Langlois and Couder
were preferred to him.  His next attempt was in 1849, when Cogniet
secured the majority of votes.  When he presented himself again in
1853, insult was added to injury, his very candidature being refused!
Time has avenged the wrong; the names of Schnetz, Langlois, Couder, and
Cogniet are all but forgotten, whilst Delacroix has become immortal.

Encouraged by his triumph at the Universal Exposition of 1855,
Delacroix presented himself for the sixth time when the next vacancy
arose in 1857, and this time his perseverance at last found its
reward--he was elected just before he entered upon the seventh decade
of his life.  But even now he was denied peaceful enjoyment of his
tardy success.  His next contributions to the Salon, in 1859, led to a
renewed outburst of vituperative criticism and abuse, and this time
Delacroix was hurt to the quick.  He decided not to expose himself in
future to the gibes of his detractors, and for the remaining four years
of his life, although continuing his artistic activity to the very end,
refrained from contributing to public exhibitions.

The years 1837-1841 mark a fruitful epoch in Delacroix's career.  The
masterpieces that issued from his studio in these years would alone
have sufficed to establish his lasting fame.  In 1837 he painted the
magnificent "Battle of Taillebourg," which is the glory of the gallery
of battle pictures at Versailles, but found so little favour with the
jury of the Salon that it narrowly escaped being rejected.  The tumult
and confusion of hand-to-hand fighting had never before been rendered
with such force and such absence of heroic attitudinising.  To the next
year we owe "The Enraged Medea," of the Lille Museum, and that
extraordinary scene of fitful, jerky, furious movement known as "Les
Convulsionnaires de Tanger," which, after having twice changed hands at
public auction during the artist's lifetime, for £87 in 1852 and for
£1160 in 1858, rose to £1940 at a sale held in 1869, and finally found
a purchaser for £3800 in 1881.

The "Jewish Wedding in Morocco," in which the painter's concern with
true tone-values and beautiful quality of pigment is carried even
further than in the "Algerian Women," and the intensely dramatic
"Hamlet and the Gravediggers"--both are now at the Louvre--were his
chief works in 1839; whilst in the following year he devoted his
energies to the large "Justice of Trajan" (now extensively restored) at
the Rouen Gallery, and the powerful "Shipwreck of Don Juan," surely one
of the most tragic and impressive pictures ever conceived by human
genius.  It bears the same relation to the "Dante and Virgil" that "The
Crusaders" bears to "The Massacre of Scio."  And it is one of the most
striking instances of Delacroix's power to make colour itself
expressive of the mood of the drama.  The conception, though based on
Byron's poem, owes little to the literary foundation--that is to say,
it is not illustrative in the sense that acquaintance with the poem is
essential for its appreciation.  It is just a vivid realisation of the
combined horrors of shipwreck and starvation in which the tragic aspect
of sea and sky is as significant as the ghastliness of the wretches
whom hunger has turned into cannibals.  The sombre tonality and the
flashes of livid light, recall El Greco in his later period.  To the
year 1841 belongs "The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople," of
which mention has already been made.

At the Salon of 1845 appeared the large painting of "The Sultan of
Morocco surrounded by his Guard," which was bought by the State for the
Toulouse Gallery at the price of £160.  Baudelaire, ever an ardent
admirer of Delacroix, draws attention to the peculiar quality of the
colour harmony in this picture which, "notwithstanding the splendour of
the tones, is grey, grey like Nature, grey like the atmosphere of a
summer day, when the sunlight spreads like a twilight of vibrating dust
upon every object."  "The Sultan of Morocco" was one of the last large
canvases produced by the master, whose best energies were now absorbed
by his gigantic decorative tasks, although he continued to paint an
endless succession of easel pictures, many of which were variations of
earlier compositions.


The decoration of the Salon du Roi, which occupied Delacroix from 1833
to 1838, and for which he received the niggardly pay of £1200, was the
first great task of this kind entrusted to him.  Nevertheless he knew
how to adapt design and colour to the architectural conditions in a
manner that could scarcely have been bettered by life-long experience.
And these conditions were by no means favourable for pictorial
decoration, since the walls of the square room are pierced all round by
real and blind windows and doors, and the lighting is about as bad as
could be.  Delacroix's scheme consists of eight large single figures in
grisaille for the pilasters; a continuous band, with figure
compositions, connecting the spandrils and forming a kind of frieze
which is painted in delicate, tender tones, suggestive of faded
tapestry, that lead up to the rich colouring of the eight panels in the
ceiling and the surround of the skylight.  Unfortunately the ceiling is
not domed, so that the strong light filtering through the round glazing
does not reach the panels and only serves to dazzle one's eyes.  It is
only by shutting out this central light and by the use of mirrors that
it is possible to appreciate the noble, reposeful allegorical groups of
_Justice_, _Agriculture_, _Industry_, and _War_, which fill the four
oblong panels, and the four graceful Cupids carrying the corresponding
attributes in the corners.  The frieze, which is divided from the
moulding of the ceiling by an ornamental band with appropriate Latin
inscriptions, is remarkable for the masterly skill with which the
design of the figures and groups is adapted to the awkward shape of the
spandrils between the semi-circular arches, and for the lucid clearness
of the allegorical representations, the subjects on each wall being
closely connected with those on the corresponding panels of the
ceiling.  Thus under the "Justice" panel are to be seen Truth and
Wisdom inspiring a greybeard composing the laws, Meditation
interpreting the law, Strength with a tamed lion at the foot of three
judges, and the Avenging Angel pursuing two culprits.  "Agriculture" is
illustrated by a Bacchanalian Vintage Festival, a Harvest scene, and
Arcadian figures.  "Industry" by allegorical scenes of Commerce,
Navigation, and Silk-growing; and "War" by the Manufacture of Arms, and
a group of fettered women being taken into captivity.  The heroic
figures in grisaille on the pilasters are personifications of the
Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the six principal rivers of France,
namely the Garonne, the Saone, the Loire, the Rhine (which then
belonged to France as much as to Germany), the Seine, and the Rhône.

Before Delacroix had completed the paintings in the Salon du Roi, that
is to say in 1837, he was entrusted with the even more important
commission for the decoration of the Libraries of the Chamber of
Deputies at the Palais Bourbon, and of the Senate at the Luxembourg;
three years earlier, in 1834, he had experimented in the technique of
fresco painting, which he found more congenial than distemper, when
executing three overdoor panels of Leda, Anacreon, and Bacchus, at
Valmont, where they still remain _in situ_ in all their pristine

The Library of the Palais Bourbon has been described by a well-known
recent German critic as the "French Sistine Chapel."  To any one
examining this vast work in an unprejudiced spirit it will be difficult
to share this enthusiasm.  The cool and noble intellectuality which is
at the basis of Delacroix's art, even where it is apparently most
spontaneous and fugous, certainly renders these decorations supremely
interesting.  But the appeal is intellectual rather than sensuous.  The
beholder is filled with profound respect, instead of being thrilled by
the emotional effect of colour.  Nor can this be entirely due to bad
lighting and to the serious deterioration and indifferent restoring of
the paintings, of which scarcely more than the design is by Delacroix's
own hand, the execution being almost entirely due to Lassalle Bordes
and other assistants, who are also largely responsible for the actual
painting of the Luxembourg decoration.

The work in the Library of the Chamber of Deputies consists of two
hemicycles of "Peace" (Orpheus bringing Civilisation to Greece) and
"War" (Attila bringing Barbarism back to Italy), and twenty
pendentives--four in each of the five cupolas--with connecting
ornamental bands and cartouches.  In the first cupola, Poetry is
illustrated by "Alexander and Homer's Poems," "The Education of
Achilles," "Ovid with the Barbarians," and "Hesiod and the Muse."
Theology is the subject of the second dome: "Adam and Eve," "The
Babylonian Captivity," "The Death of St. John," and "The Tribute
Money."  Law of the third: "Numa and Egeria," "Lycurgus,"
"Demosthenes," and "Cicero"; Philosophy of the fourth: "Herodotus,"
"Chaldean Shepherd Astronomers," "Seneca's Death," and "Socrates"; and
Science of the fifth: "The Death of Pliny," "Aristoteles,"
"Hippocrates," and "Archimedes."  Each pendentive depicts, not a single
figure, but an admirably composed scene of history or legend.  The
series was commenced in 1837 and completed in 1847.  The two hemicycles
are painted in the encaustic manner direct upon the wall, whilst all
the rest is executed in oils on canvas.

The decoration of the Library in the Luxembourg Palace took from 1845
to 1847.  It consists of a fan-shaped hemicycle of over 30 feet in
width, the subject of which is Alexander, after the Battle of Arbela,
ordering the works of Homer to be enclosed in a golden casket captured
from the Persians; and the paintings in the cupola--a composition in
four parts but without division (Dante presented to Homer by Virgil, a
group of Greek philosophers, Orpheus charming the beasts, and
illustrious Romans), and four pendentives, St. Jerome, Cicero, Orpheus,
and the Muse of Aristoteles.



(In the Wallace Collection)

Delacroix himself considered this picture, which was painted in 1826,
to be his masterpiece.  Exhibited first at the Salon of 1827, when "The
Death of Sardanapalus" caused a veritable torrent of abuse to be
showered upon the artist, it failed to attract the favourable attention
which its nobly balanced design, brilliant colour, and intensely
dramatic feeling would otherwise surely have commanded, and which was
given to it in the following year by the London public.  "Marino
Faliero" is unquestionably the finest example of Delacroix's art in



Earlier in date than the Library of the Senate is the large mural
painting in wax colours of the "Pietà" in the Church of St.
Dénis-du-Saint-Sacrement.  It bears the date 1843, and is, apart from
the passionate intensity of movement and expression, and its linear
rhythm, interesting as an instance of the almost incredible rapidity
with which Delacroix proceeded upon the actual execution of his
paintings, once the scheme had taken definite shape in his mind.
According to Moreau, who had this information from the artist himself,
the whole painting of about 15 ft. by 11 ft. was finished in seventeen
days, each day's progress being marked by Delacroix on the wall.

The decoration of the two Libraries was scarcely finished when two new
commissions of equal importance gave him further opportunity for the
triumphant display of his decorative genius.  A few sketches and
engravings are unfortunately all that is left to us of the circular
centre, the eight shaped oblong panels and the eleven lunettes which
constituted the pictorial decoration of the Salon de la Paix at the old
Hôtel de Ville, since the building was destroyed by fire in May 1871 in
the days of the Commune.  Delacroix worked on these designs from 1849
to 1853, and was only paid £1200 for the whole series.

If the labour and thought expended upon the Salon de la Paix were
destined to lead to such short-lived results, the magnificent
centrepiece of the ceiling in the Salon d'Apollon can be seen to-day in
its unimpaired freshness--the most striking testimony to its creator's
genius.  The decoration of this gallery was entrusted to Le Brun as far
back as 1661; and it was Louis XIV.'s favourite painter who conceived
the idea of paying homage to his master, the "Roi Soleil," by depicting
"The Triumph of Apollo" in the centre panel, with appropriate subjects
in the other ten compartments.  But his work was interrupted, when he
was called upon to supervise the decoration of Versailles, before he
had even sketched out the design for "The Triumph of Apollo."  The ten
minor compartments remained neglected for over a century, and were
allowed to get into a deplorable condition, until the restoration was
taken in hand in 1848, the painting of the great centre being at the
same time entrusted to Delacroix.  Apart from the fact that Apollo was
to be the hero of the design, Delacroix had an entirely free hand, and
chose to depict the god vanquishing the Python, with Diana, Mercury,
Minerva, Hercules, Vulcan, Boreas, Zephyrus, Victory, Iris, and Nymphs
as subsidiary figures.  Although the design offends against the
fundamental rule of all ceiling decorations, that there should be no
"above" and "below," and that the composition should be devised so as
to be equally intelligible from every point of view, one cannot but
admire the noble co- and subordination of the different groups and
figures, the lucid clearness of the pictorial statement of an
essentially intellectual conception, the astonishing colour-magic, and,
above all, the manner in which the master has adapted his own work to
the somewhat gaudy and over-decorated surroundings.  "Delacroix," says
Robaut in his "Catalogue Raisonné," "has here shown himself as great in
execution as in invention, and the Apollo ceiling is one of the most
perfect works of art that reflect glory upon all the centuries"--a
judgment which has been endorsed by two generations of artists and
critics.  The ceiling, for which the master was paid the sum of £960,
was finished in 1849.  About two hundred sketches and drawings for
details of the composition figured in the sale held after Delacroix's

We have seen that from the time when Delacroix began his work for the
Salon du Roi in 1833 until the completion of the Salon de la Paix in
1853, he had no sooner brought any of his monumental decorations to a
successful conclusion when some other decorative work was entrusted to
him.  And so again, in 1853, when he had just finished the Hôtel de
Ville series, he was made to proceed immediately upon that great fresco
decoration of the Chapel of the Saints-Anges at St. Sulpice, which,
completed in 1861, was his last work of real importance, and is in many
respects the crowning achievement of his great career.  Here, for once,
Delacroix found himself able to work under conditions similar to those
under which the Florentine masters of the quattrocento wrought their
marvellous frescoes.  Here was no complete scheme of ornate
architectural details, no sumptuous framework in which spaces had been
left for the addition of painted panels that had to be treated in a
more or less florid manner to fit into their rich surroundings.  Here
everything was left to the painter's free will, checked only by the
consideration of the fitness of the subjects for the site and by the
architectural proportions of the little chapel.  And it is not too much
to say that Delacroix solved the problem in more masterly fashion than
any painter between the glorious days of the Italian Renaissance and
the advent of Puvis de Chavannes, the greatest decorator of modern

Like all true fresco decoration, the two large paintings of "Jacob
wrestling with the Angel" and "Heliodorus driven from the Temple" do
not attempt to give the illusion of plastic life, or of an opening cut
through the wall, but duly accentuate the flatness of the surface.  The
scale of colour adopted for this admirable decoration aims, without the
least sense of monotony or dulness, at the exquisiteness of the greens
and greys of a fine panel of faded Flemish tapestry, and has nothing in
common with the rich, glowing palette which Delacroix had inherited
from Rubens and the Venetian colourists.  The tapestry-like effect is
particularly noticeable in the treatment of the trees which are so
important a feature in the composition of "Jacob wrestling with the
Angel," the figures being comparatively small in scale, though by no
means subordinate to the landscape.  Nothing could be more impressive
than the contrast of the terrific muscular exertion of Jacob and the
easy grace with which it is made ineffective by his invincible
supernatural opponent.  The group is one of the noblest creations of
modern art--worthy of the brush of a Pollaiuolo or a Signorelli.

In the "Heliodorus" the accidents of Nature's architecture are replaced
by the equally imposing but deliberate and formal lines of the
architecture created by human builders.  The general disposition of the
design is not unlike that of the earlier "Justice of Trajan"; but there
is this significant difference between the earlier work and the St.
Sulpice fresco, that the very first glance reveals the essentially
human element in the first, and the irresistible force of the
supernatural in the second.  The tempestuous, sweeping onrush of the
two flying angels contrasted with the calm consciousness of
all-conquering strength expressed not only in the mounted heavenly
messenger but in the very action of his noble horse--the horses in
Delacroix's paintings invariably reflect the mood of the drama or
tragedy that forms the subject of the picture--are a pictorial
conception of unsurpassed grandeur.  The only unsatisfactory part of
the St. Sulpice decoration is the ceiling, where St. Michael is
depicted overthrowing the Demon.  Probably the execution of this oval
composition was almost entirely the work of assistants, as Delacroix's
failing health, aggravated by lead poisoning caused by the extensive
use of white of lead paint in his large decorations, would not have
allowed him to work under such fatiguing conditions as are unavoidable
in painting a ceiling _in situ_.



(In the Wallace Collection)

It was probably during his visit to London in 1825 that Delacroix first
realised the pictorial possibilities of Goethe's great drama.  His
correspondence shows that he was deeply impressed with a performance of
"Faust" which he witnessed in London, and which probably suggested to
him the series of nineteen lithographs, published by Sautelet in 1828.
Goethe himself referred to these lithographs in terms of exaggerated
praise.  The catalogue of Delacroix's works includes quite a number of
paintings illustrative of scenes from "Faust," of which the one in the
Wallace Collection is one of the most successful.



The frescoes in the Chapel of the Saints-Anges were the swan-song of
Delacroix's genius.  In the two years that followed their completion,
he still continued to paint and to draw--the practice of his art was
for him the very breath of life--but he produced nothing that need be
considered in the record of his achievement.  In March 1863, the
affection of his eyes, of which he had suffered intermittently for
years, took a turn for the worse.  On the 26th of May he left Paris for
Champrosay, but during the journey had a severe attack of hemorrhage of
the lungs, which recurred five days later; and he had to be taken back
to Paris.  His illness became worse and worse, and after a month he was
taken back to the country, only to be sent back again to Paris on July
14.  His days were counted.  He took to his bed immediately upon his
arrival, and breathed his last at six o'clock in the morning on August
13, 1863.


How strangely Delacroix's art was misunderstood by his contemporaries
who, nurtured on the tinted cartoons of the ruling School, stood aghast
before the passionate utterance of the master's "intoxicated broom,"
or, assuming the role of Beckmesser, marked with offensive rap of chalk
on the blackboard of the public Press his sins against their dogmatic
rules.  In their blindness they even went so far as to accuse him of
being unable to draw!  What seemed altogether to escape their
perception, was that the fiery impulse, the tempestuous _élan_ of
Delacroix's romantic imagination was largely controlled by his cool
intellectuality.  Delacroix was a thinker and a man of profound
culture.  He had, moreover, the greatest respect for tradition.  If, in
the actual painting of his pictures, he was carried away by his
enthusiasm and worked like one inspired, he never started upon this the
final stage without an enormous amount of preparatory sketches for
every figure, every detail--never before the idea had taken firm and
definite shape in his mind.  The sweep of the brush, the vitalising
amplifications and elements of movement may have been left to the
inspiration of the moment; but chance played no part in the disposition
of the design and the arrangement of the colour-scheme.

It was that amplification and exaggeration of forms, by which alone
movement can be expressed in art, that led the unthinking to the belief
that Delacroix "could not draw."  Of course, the application of
Ingres's standard of classic perfection in drawing might justify the
conclusion, but one need only glance at Delacroix's sketch-books and
studies to realise that he was a great draughtsman, if drawing, as it
was to him, is considered the means towards an end, and not an end in
itself.  And his mastery of spontaneous, nervously expressive drawing
was as complete as it could be, if mastery can be acquired through the
curbing of impetuous genius by half a century's methodical, steady
practice.  For Delacroix, from his early student days to his death,
never started on his day's work without having first "got his hand in"
by half-an-hour's practice in sketching or drawing, just as a pianist
will first run through his finger exercises and scales, to make sure of
his mastery over his instrument.

Thus, by unremitting practice, Delacroix acquired such absolute command
of the language of line and form that, in the pictorial expression of
his ideas, he used it as an orator uses the language of words--in a
steady flow, without doubts and hesitations.  His inspiration was not
checked and weakened by the struggle for an adequate form of
expression.  There was nothing in life and in nature that did not
stimulate his artistic curiosity, and all his sketches betray the same
passionate search for the really essential, the elements of life and
movement and mood, which are often to be obtained only by the sacrifice
of literal correctness.  He never tired of making drawings after
Rembrandt's etchings, and he spent many hours at the Jardin des
Plantes, in the company of the animal sculptor Barye, sketching and
painting wild beasts from life.  Indeed, Delacroix was rarely rivalled,
and probably never surpassed, as a painter of animals either in repose
or in the very frenzy of movement.

His astonishing rapidity of production has already been exemplified by
his painting of the large "Pietà" at St. Dénis-du-Saint-Sacrement in
seventeen days.  An even more striking instance is afforded by the
"King Rodrigo losing his Crown," now in the Cheramy Collection.  A
number of artists had agreed to contribute towards the decoration of a
room in a villa taken by Alexandre Dumas père in 1830.  Delacroix was
of their number; and the day agreed for the completion of the pictures
was to be celebrated by a ball.  When Delacroix arrived at midday of
the day in question he found that all the panels were in their proper
places, leaving only an unexpectedly large gap for his own
contribution.  "He had meant only to paint a few flowers.  'Listen,'
said Dumas, 'I have just been reading something that will do for you,'
and he described the first canto of the 'Romancero,' in which Rodrigo
loses his crown.  Delacroix began at once, and had painted the whole
scene by sunset, in the most unusual colours, a harmony in yellow,
unique in his work.  Great was the enthusiasm in the evening when the
friends saw the picture; Barye, in particular, who had contributed an
excellent panel, is said to have been beside himself."[1]

Delacroix's life, apart from his struggle for recognition--a struggle
which he fought entirely with his brush, leaving the controversial side
to others--was singularly uneventful.  His only passions were his art,
his love of romantic literature, and his staunch friendship.  A few
journeys and frequent spells of illness were the only events that broke
the even tenor of his life.  As a writer, Delacroix has left a
marvellous "Journal," which ought to be consulted and carefully studied
by every artist, and a number of carefully constructed magazine
articles on various æsthetic questions, which only reveal the cool
intellectual side of his dual nature.  He was a man of great reticence,
who rarely allowed himself to be drawn into criticising the art of his
contemporaries.  In his critical comments on the masters--even on those
whose style was diametrically opposed to his own temperament--he always
proved himself keenly appreciative of their great qualities.  Strangely
enough, Delacroix, who is considered the leader, and certainly was one
of the main inspirers of the Romanticist movement, not only disliked
the application of this term to his own art, but had little sympathy
with the Romanticist literature of his own time and country.  His
attitude towards Victor Hugo almost amounted to hostility; and he
always treated Baudelaire, who had espoused his cause with keen
enthusiasm, with the most calculated reserve.  In music his tastes were
severely classical--"he refreshed himself with Mozart, was never quite
able to convert himself to Beethoven, abhorred the modern French
composers, and was the first to condemn Wagner."

If Delacroix, except for a very brief period at the beginning of his
career, never suffered real poverty, he, on the other hand, never
received adequate pecuniary reward for his work.  To the very end he
was forced to sell his finest pictures at ridiculously inadequate
prices; and on some of his large decorative commissions he found
himself actually out of pocket.  It was probably the conviction that
posthumous justice would inevitably be done to his genius, which made
him insist in his will upon the sale of his remaining works by public
auction.  And events proved that he was right.  The sale, which was
held from February 16-29, 1864, was estimated to produce about £4000,
but resulted in a total of close upon £13,500.

The instructions about his burial, left by Delacroix in his will,
reflect something of his noble aloofness and his respect for great
tradition in art.  "My tomb shall be in the cemetery of Père-Lachaise,
on the height and in a place a little apart.  There shall be placed
upon it neither emblem, nor bust, nor statue.  My tomb shall be copied
very exactly from the antique, or Vignole, or Palladio, with very
pronounced projections, contrary to all that is done in the
architecture of to-day."

[1] Julius Meier-Graefe, "Modern Art," vol. i.

The plates are printed by BEMROSE & SONS, LTD., Derby and London

The text at the BALLANTYNE PRESS, Edinburgh


  ARTIST.                   AUTHOR.

  VELAZQUEZ.                S. L. BENSUSAN.
  REYNOLDS.                 S. L. BENSUSAN.
  TURNER.                   C. LEWIS HIND.
  ROMNEY.                   C. LEWIS HIND.
  GREUZE.                   ALYS EYRE MACKLIN.
  BOTTICELLI.               HENRY B. BINNS.
  ROSSETTI.                 LUCIEN PISSARRO.
  BELLINI.                  GEORGE HAY.
  REMBRANDT.                JOSEF ISRAELS.
  LEIGHTON.                 A. LYS BALDRY.
  RAPHAEL.                  PAUL G. KONODY.
  TITIAN.                   S. L. BENSUSAN.
  MILLAIS.                  A. LYS BALDRY.
  CARLO DOLCI.              GEORGE HAY.
  TINTORETTO.               S. L. BENSUSAN.
  LUINI.                    JAMES MASON.
  VAN DYCK.                 PERCY M. TURNER.
  RUBENS.                   S. L. BENSUSAN.
  WHISTLER.                 T. MARTIN WOOD.
  HOLBEIN.                  S. L. BENSUSAN.
  BURNE-JONES.              A. LYS BALDRY.
  CHARDIN.                  PAUL G. KONODY.
  MEMLINC.                  W. H. J. & J. C. WEALE.
  CONSTABLE.                C. LEWIS HIND.
  RAEBURN.                  JAMES L. CAW.
  LAWRENCE.                 S. L. BENSUSAN.
  DÜRER.                    H. E. A. FURST.
  MILLET.                   PERCY M. TURNER.
  WATTEAU.                  C. LEWIS HIND.
  HOGARTH.                  C. LEWIS HIND.
  MURILLO.                  S. L. BENSUSAN.
  WATTS.                    W. LOFTUS HARE.
  INGRES.                   A. J. FINBERG.
  COROT.                    SIDNEY ALLNUTT.
  DELACROIX.                PAUL G. KONODY.

  _Others in Preparation._

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Delacroix" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.