Delacroix's Paintings

overview of eugène delacroix

French painter Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix is often heralded as the hero of the Romanticism movement.   However, his reputation as a pioneer of the Modern Art movement is less well known. Charles Baudelaire, one of the leading critics of the time, wrote: “The majority of the public have long since, indeed from his very first work, dubbed him leader of the modern school.”

early years

From a young age, Eugène Delacroix’s talents were recognized and he was able to make use of his aristocratic connections. In 1815, he began studying under the well-known academic painter Baron Pierre-Narcisse Guérin.

neo-classicism v romanticism

When Delacroix’s acquaintance, Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault died, it made Delacroix the most prominent romanticist painter in France.


Delacroix had a deep love for all things English. He was fascinated by the way the English dressed and the idea of English elegance, once commenting that everyone dressed “like undertakers”.

the death of sardanapalus

This is one of Delacroix’s most controversial paintings. While it was widely criticized, it is one of the most vivid examples of his daring capability with color, form, and composition.


After the French had conquered Morocco, Delacroix used his contacts to secure a visit to Morocco. He continued to return to the themes he had seen in North Africa throughout the rest of his life.

early salon works

The works submitted were guided by the demands of the small judging panel of the Salon. Despite this, Delacroix never made the most popular decisions.

mature work

His influences ranged from Rubens to Da Vinci, denoting an aspiration that was rarely matched. Through a study of Rubens, he seemed to be articulating how tone and color can be just as complex as line.

religious paintings

By this time, Delacroix had been accepted into the academy and was even praised for the Michelangelo touch in this painting.


Moved by the political spirit of the 1930s, Delacroix painted Liberty Leading the People (1830). It caused such a stir that the state bought the work, put it in the Luxembourg Museum, and then took it down and quietly gave it back to him.


Delacroix showed the next generation how to do audacious things. Gaugin was also intrigued by Delacroix’s use of color for expressive purposes and for intensifying emotion.

beginning of the end

Ovid Among the Scythians (1859) was the last painting Delacroix ever submitted to the Paris Salon, which was met with some hostility. He had a long illness and died in Paris in August 1863. He was 65 years old.