Delacroix inspires!

Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art, Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, London, until 22nd May 2016

Eugène Delacroix The Death of Sardanapalus (reduced replica), 1846 Oil on canvas 73.7 x 82.4 cm © Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986 (1986-26-17)

Eugène Delacroix
The Death of Sardanapalus (reduced replica), 1846
Oil on canvas
73.7 x 82.4 cm
© Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania
The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986 (1986-26-17)

This is a very interesting exhibition because while sadly it may not be so much of a crowd drawer as other exhibitions, it tells about an important chapter in 19th century French painting – the story of Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) who despite being trained in the Neo-Classical school broke away from that tradition and became as Baudelaire put it ‘a poet in painting’.

Eugène Delacroix Self Portrait, about 1837 Oil on canvas 65 x 54.5 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris (RF 25) © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Eugène Delacroix
Self Portrait, about 1837
Oil on canvas
65 x 54.5 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris (RF 25)
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Delacroix was an admirer of Rubens and of English painting.  His works with their bold brushstrokes and use of colour were criticised by the establishment as were his choice of subjects but he was supported by his fellow artists such as Courbet. Delacroix wrote in his diary “I dislike reasonable painting.”

Paul Signac (1863-1935) Snow: Boulevard de Clichy, Paris, 1886 Oil on canvas 66 x 43.2 cm © The Minneapolis Institute of Art Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan 61.36.16

Paul Signac (1863-1935)
Snow: Boulevard de Clichy, Paris, 1886
Oil on canvas
66 x 43.2 cm
© The Minneapolis Institute of Art
Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan 61.36.16

While a third of the paintings on show are by Delacroix, the majority are by other artists –Impressionists, Post Impressionists, Symbolists, and Fauves – who were influenced by the genius of his work and also, like him, dared to break the rules and be innovative. As Cézanne aptly summed it up – “We all paint in Delacroix’s language”.

Paul Gauguin Still Life with a Sketch after Delacroix, 1887 Oil on canvas 40 x 30 cm Musée d'Art moderne et contemporain de Strasbourg © Photo Musées de Strasbourg, M. Bertola

Paul Gauguin
Still Life with a Sketch after Delacroix, 1887
Oil on canvas
40 x 30 cm
Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain de Strasbourg
© Photo Musées de Strasbourg, M. Bertola

Certainly, to my mind, Delacroix rules over this well worth visiting show.

 

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk

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