Responding to resurgent interest in nineteenth-century French painting--with its rich connections to revolutionary politics, exoticism, romance, and nationalism--Barthélémy Jobert offers this long-awaited, first comprehensive book on one of the period's greatest and most elusive artists: Eugtne Delacroix (1798-1863). This solitary genius produced stormy, romantic works like The Death of Sardanapalus and then turned to more classically inspired paintings, such as Liberty Leading the People--a fact that has never been fully explained. In this visually compelling tribute to the artist, however, Jobert explores the driving inner tensions and contradictions behind both Delacroix's life and work. Jobert not only re-creates the political and cultural arenas in which Delacroix thrived, but also allows readers a rare opportunity to appreciate the full range of his artistic production. Delacroix's large canvases, decorative cycles, watercolors, and engravings, which are widely dispersed throughout the world, are beautifully represented here in 231 color plates. The book is timed to commemorate the bicentenary of Delacroix's birth.
Traditionally described as an artistic loner, Delacroix profoundly influenced later painters such as Cézanne and Picasso. An image of the artist as a man of his times comes to light, however, as Jobert reveals the ways in which Delacroix successfully navigated a career within the Salon system and through government commissions. Delacroix socialized with George Sand and Victor Hugo, engaged Baudelaire and Gauthier in intense philosophical discussions about art, and maintained a lively interaction with the press. As a passionate artist who sought to make money in a politically volatile climate, Delacroix managed to create works that transcended the ideology of his government connections.
Delacroix's famous trip to Morocco, which had the ironic outcome of directing his attention away from Romanticism and back toward his classical roots, is analyzed in detail. Considering both Delacroix's training and sources of inspiration, Jobert shows how the Moroccan journey led the artist to a balanced approach to his art: the classical tradition he had never totally abandoned was permanently combined with the Romanticism of his youth. Over the long span of his career, Delacroix responded to the literary fascination with Orientalism, the politics of the Restoration and French imperialism, and popular interest in travel and documentation. He painted everything from sweeping epic tales to intimate interiors. Only now has the scope and scale of Delacroix's oeuvre come to life in a detailed and up-to-date account for the specialist and general reader alike.