“French painter Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863) was one of the greatest creative figures of the 19th century. Through his choice of daring subjects and compositions, a vibrant palette, and bold brushwork, he set into motion a cascade of innovations that changed the course of art. As Van Gogh wrote in 1885: ‘What I find so fine about Delacroix is precisely that he reveals the liveliness of things, and the expression and the movement, that he is utterly beyond the paint.’ Although Delacroix is celebrated as the embodiment of the Romantic era, much remains to be understood about his life and prolific career. At The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Delacroix is the first comprehensive retrospective in North America devoted to the artist. Visitors will discover a protean genius who continues to set the bar for artists today.
Encompassing 12 galleries, the exhibition will provide a largely chronological overview of the three main phases of Delacroix’s four-decade career. The first phase centers on his formative years, from 1822 to 1834, dominated by a thirst for novelty, fame, and freedom. The second focuses on 1835 to 1855, marked by his exploration of historical themes informed by large mural commissions, as well as his triumph at the Exposition Universelle of 1855. The third and final phase follows Delacroix’s growing interest in nature and the creative role of memory, up until his death in 1863.” — The Met
“If by Romanticism one means the free manifestation of my personal impressions, my aversion to the models copied in the schools, and my loathing for academic formulas, I must confess that not only am I Romantic, but I was so at the age of fifteen.” — Delacroix
The Combat of the Giaour and Hassan, 1826. Oil on canvas. 23 1/2 × 28 7/8 in. (59.6 × 73.4 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Bertha Palmer Thorne, Rose Movius Palmer, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur M. Wood, and Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Palmer (1962.966). Photo credit: The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY
Combat of the Giaour and Hassan, 1835. Oil on canvas. 29 1/8 × 23 5/8 in. (74 × 60 cm). Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris. © Petit Palais / Roger-Viollet
Collision of Arab Horsemen, 1833/34. Oil on canvas. 31 11/16 × 39 9/16 in. (80.5 × 100.5 cm). Private collection
Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother, 1830. Oil on canvas. 130 x 195 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris. © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Franck Raux
Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, 1834. Oil on canvas. 70 7/8 × 90 3/16 in. (180 × 229 cm). Musée du Louvre, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY. Photo: Franck Raux
Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard, 1835. Oil on canvas. 39 × 31 11/16 in. (99 × 80.5 cm). Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main. Photo: Städel Museum – ARTOTHEK
Self-Portrait with Green Vest, ca. 1837. Oil on canvas, 25 9/16 x 21 7/16 in. (65 x 54.5 cm). Musée du Louvre, Paris. © RMN– Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Michel Urtado
Medea About to Kill Her Children (Medee furieuse), 1838. Oil on canvas. 8 ft. 6 3/8 in. x 64 15/16 in. (206 x 165 cm.) Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY. Photo: Stéphane Maréchalle
The Shipwreck of Don Juan. 1840. Oil on canvas. 53 1/8 × 77 3/16 in. (135 × 196 cm). Photo: Gerard Blot. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Gift of Adolphe Moreau, 1883. © RMN
The Abduction of Rebecca, 1846. Oil on canvas. 39 1/2 x 32 1/4 in. (100.3 x 81.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1903 (03.30). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Juan Trujillo
Basket of Flowers, 1848–1849. Oil on canvas. 42 1/4 x 56 in. (107.3 x 142.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876– 1967), 1967 (67.187.60). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Apollo Victorious over the Serpent Python, sketch, ca. 1850. Oil on canvas. 54 1/8 × 40 3/16 in. (137.5 × 102 cm). Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels. © Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (RMFAB), Brussels
The Sea at Dieppe, 1852. Oil on cardboard, laid down on wood. 13 3/4 × 20 1/16 in. (35 × 51 cm). Musée du Louvre, Paris, Bequest of Marcel Beurdeley, 1979. © Musée du Louvre, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Philippe Fuzeau / Art Resource, NY
Delacroix is organized by Asher Miller, Associate Curator in the Department of European Paintings at The Met, in collaboration with Sébastien Allard, Director of the Department of Paintings at the Musée du Louvre, and Côme Fabre, Curator in the Department of Paintings at the Musée du Louvre.
Images courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.