Eugène Delacroix Arab Horses Fighting in a Stable

Delacroix, the Visionary Romantic Artist, Gets First Major North American Retrospective. A new exhibition at the Met features nearly 150 of Delacroix’s paintings, drawings and prints

By Brigit Katz

Eugène Delacroix, whose stormy, boundary-defying paintings captivated France in the 19th century, is one of history’s most significant artists. He was a leader of the Romantic Movement, and is regarded by many as a forefather of modernism. The likes of Picasso, Cézanne and van Gogh hailed him as a genius.

“Delacroix’s palette is still the most beautiful in France,” Cézanne once opined. “We all paint in his language.”

Eugène Delacroix self portrait

And yet, in spite of Delacroix’s towering legacy, his art has never been showcased in a full-scale retrospective in North America, Roberta Smith reports for the New York Times. That changes today, as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York unveils an expansive exhibition featuring nearly 150 Delacroix works.

Titled simply “Delacroix,” the new retrospective was organized in conjunction with the Louvre, which staged its own Delacroix show earlier this year, to great success.

The Death of Sardanapalus

The New York exhibition will be missing some of the artist’s most famous works, like his French Revolution allegory “Liberty Leading the People,” because they are too fragile to make the journey overseas. But the wealth of paintings, drawings, prints and manuscripts on display gives North American audiences “a rare opportunity to experience the breathtaking talent and remarkable scope of one of the most creative forces of the nineteenth century,” Met director Max Hollein says in a statement.

The exhibition, which spans 12 galleries, is organized chronologically into three distinct phases of the artist’s career: His formative years between 1822 and 1834; his exploration of historical themes, rendered on large murals, between 1835 and 1855; and his interest in nature and memory, which informed his later works until his death in 1863. Read more: 

Books on Delacroix:


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