The 10 Most Famous Artworks of Eugene Delacroix
This includes Liberty Guiding the People, The Barque of Dante, Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix (26 April 1798 – 13 August 1863) was a French Romantic artist 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 colour profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement.
Delacroix is widely regarded as the leader of the Romantic movement in 19th-century French art. His life and work embodied the movement’s concern for emotion, exoticism, and the sublime, and his painting style – full of lush, agitated brushwork and pulsating with vivid color – was in direct contrast to the cool and controlled delineations of his peer and rival, Ingres. Delacroix eschewed academic conventions in his choice of subjects, favoring scenes from contemporary history rendered on a large scale in the most dramatic of fashions, with visibly energized brushwork and dynamic figural compositions.
niood lists the 10 Most Famous Artworks of Eugene Delacroix:
Location: Louvre Museum (since 2013)
Liberty Leading the People (French: La Liberté guidant le peuple) is a painting by Eugène Delacroix commemorating the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled King Charles X of France. A woman of the people with a Phrygian cap personifying the concept of Liberty leads a varied group of people forward over a barricade and the bodies of the fallen, holding the flag of the French Revolution – the tricolour, which again became France’s national flag after these events – in one hand and brandishing a bayonetted musket with the other. The figure of Liberty is also viewed as a symbol of France and the French Republic known as Marianne. The painting is often confused for depicting the French Revolution.
The painting loosely depicts events narrated in canto eight of Dante’s Inferno; a leaden, smoky mist and the blazing City of the Dead form the backdrop against which the poet Dante fearfully endures his crossing of the River Styx. As his barque ploughs through waters heaving with tormented souls, Dante is steadied by Virgil, the learned poet of Classical antiquity.
The painting explores the psychological states of the individuals it depicts, and uses compact, dramatic contrasts to highlight their different responses to their respective predicaments. Virgil’s detachment from the tumult surrounding him, and his concern for Dante’s well-being, is an obvious counterpoint to the latter’s fear, anxiety, and physical state of imbalance.
Location: Museum of Fine Arts of Bordeaux
In 1825, during the Greek war of independence from Ottoman occupation, Turkish troops besieged the city of Missolonghi. The Greek population, already decimated by famine and epidemics, attempted a heroic liberation that ended in tragedy when the Turks killed most of the population of the city. Delacroix, like many European artists and intellectuals, was a fervent supporter of the Greek cause. Most of the painting is dedicated to the figure of Greece herself, represented as a young woman wearing traditional costume. Her posture and expression recall traditional religious images of the Virgin weeping over the body of Christ. The image of suffering Greece succeeded in conveying the plight of the Greeks to the French public.
Location: Louvre Museum
Year: 1827 and 1844
The Death of Sardanapalus is based on the tale of Sardanapalus, the last king of Assyria, from the historical library of Diodorus Siculus, the ancient Greek historian, and is a work of the era of Romanticism.
Delacroix used a painterly brushstroke in this painting, which allows for a strong sense of movement in the work. This scene is chaotic and violent, as showcased by the movement, weapons, and the colors used. The redness of the bed stands out against the somewhat obscured, dark background. The whiteness of Sardanapalus’s robe, the creamy lines of the dying women’s limbs, and the shimmers of gold objects throughout the scene pull the viewer’s eye quickly around the painting.
Year: 1826, 1835 and 1856
Location: Petit Palais, Paris
The story is about the ill-fated love affair between a Venetian, the Giaour – a term used by Muslims to refer to an adulterer – and a slave, Leila, who belonged to the seraglio of Hassan, the military leader of a Turkish province. Leila, who has failed to show the Pasha Hassan the loyalty she owes him, is thrown into the sea. Her lover, the Giaour, avenges her by killing Hassan.
Location: Louvre Museum, Paris
Subject: Fourth Crusade
Delacroix’s painting depicts a famous episode of the Fourth Crusade (12 April 1204), in which the Crusaders abandoned their plan to invade Muslim Egypt and Jerusalem, and instead sacked the Christian (Eastern Orthodox) city of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
Location: Louvre Museum
Believed to be a preparatory work in oil for the artist’s later Massacre at Chios, Orphan Girl at the Cemetery is nevertheless considered a masterpiece in its own right. An air of sorrow and fearfulness emanates from the picture, and tears well from the eyes of the grief-stricken girl as she looks apprehensively upward. The dimness of the sky and the abandoned laying-ground are consonant with her expression of melancholy. The girl’s body language and clothing evoke tragedy and vulnerability: the dress drooping down from her shoulder, a hand laid weakly on her thigh, the shadows above the nape of her neck, the darkness at her left side, and the cold and pale coloring of her attire. All these are combined to emphasize a sense of loss, of unreachable hope, her isolation, and the absence of any means of help.
Location: Apostolic Palace (since 1512)
This Biblical subject, taken from the Second Book of Maccabees, depicts Heliodorus, prime minister to Seleucus IV Philopator, king of Syria in the second century B.C., who was sent to seize the treasures of the Temple of Jerusalem. The artist borrows it from Titian’s famous fresco at the Vatican, but treats it in a very different manner. The sumptuous decor, the passionate fire of the characters, the wealth of color, the contrasting lights and shadows, once again place Delacroix in the lineage of Veronese and Tintoretto.
Location: Louvre Museum
Eugène Delacroix painted the Prisoner of Chillon in 1834 in response to a poem by Byron. The poem describes the trials of a lone survivor of a family who have been martyred. The character’s father was burnt at the stake, and out of six brothers, two fell at the battlefield while one was burnt to death. The remaining three were sent to the castle of Chillon as prisoners, out of which two more died due to pining away. In time only the narrator lived.
Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
A Young Tiger Playing with its Mother is a painting of 1830–31 by French artist Eugène Delacroix depicting two enormous tigers “playing” with each other. Painted early in his career, it shows how the artist was attracted to animal subjects in this period.
In French, the picture is called Jeune tigre jouant avec sa mère. Its fierce but also divinely animals represents the “delight in wildness” that Romantic artists like Delacroix was fascinated with.