Childhood and education (1798-1821)
1798. 26 April (7 Floréal, year VI)
Eugène Delacroix is born in Charenton-Saint-Maurice (Val-de-Marne), son of Charles Delacroix (1741-1805), then plenipotentiary minister in the Netherlands, and Victoire Œben (1758-1814), daughter of Louis XV’s famous cabinet-maker. He has a sister, Henriette, and two brothers, Charles and Henri.
From 1800 to 1806
The Delacroix family moves to Marseille, then to Bordeaux, where Charles was named as prefect. After his death in 1805, the family returns to Paris. Delacroix then attends the Lycée Impérial (the present-day Lycée Louis-le-Grand).
Delacroix spends the summer in Valmont, near Fécamp, with his cousin Bataille. He returns every year until 1817.
The death of his mother on 3 september leaves the young man in a precarious situation.
Delacroix joins the studio of Pierre Guérin (1775-1843) in October. The following year, he studies at the École des Beaux-Arts.
He receives his first commission, The Virgin of the Harvest, for the church of Orcémont (near Rambouillet).
Géricault (1791-1824), also one of Guérin’s students, asks Delacroix to create the painting for which he had received a commission from the cathedral of Nantes: The Triumph of Religion,also known as The Virgin of the Sacred Heart (Ajaccio, cathedral).
The romantic years (1822-1831)
Delacroix exhibits for the first time at the Salon. Dante and Virgil in Hell (Paris, Musée du Louvre) receives a mixed reaction from the critics; nevetheless, the State purchases the work. In September, Delacroix starts writing his journal. He continues to write until 1824, then starts again in 1847.
The City of Paris commissions a painting from Delacroix for the Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis church: Christ in the Garden of Olives. He exhibits four paintings in the Salon, including Massacres of Chios (Paris, Musée du Louvre), inspired from the Greek war of independence, which receives a mixed reaction.
Delacroix travels to England (19 May-late August), where he discovers a number of painters and English theater (Etty, Lawrence, Reynolds).
In May, an exhibition organized on behalf of the Greeks opens at the Galerie Lebrun. Delacroix exhibits several paintings in the show, including Greece Dying on the Ruins of Missolonghi (Bordeaux, Musée des Beaux-Arts).
At the Salon, held later than usual this year, Delacroix exhibits no less than thirteen paintings, then adds The Death of Sardanapalus in 1826 (Paris, Musée du Louvre). The work creates a scandal, but is nevertheless purchased by the State. He publishes a series of seventeen lithographies illustrating Goethe’s Faust. The city of Nancy commissions The Death of Charles the Bold (also known as The Battle of Nancy; Nancy, Musée des Beaux-Arts).
On 4 March, Delacroix is awarded the Legion of Honor. He exhibits eleven works at the Salon, including Liberty Leading the People (Paris, Musée du Louvre), which King Louis-Philippe purchases for the Royal Museum. On 5 December, Delacroix is invited to join a mission to Morocco led by the Comte de Mornay.
The 1932 trip to North Africa
The French diplomatic mission sent to the Moroccan emperor, Moulay-Abd-el-Rahman, and led by the Comte Charles de Mornay, leaves Paris for Toulon, then embarks aboard ship.
Delacroix arrives in Tangiers. The following day, he starts writing and sketching his impressions in the first of his famous Moroccan sketchbooks. In the evenings, he finishes his sketches with watercolors.
Delacroix, who has been visiting the Benchimol family for a month, attends a Jewish wedding through their intervention.
The delegation reaches Meknes and awaits an imperial audience, which they are granted on 22 March.
The delegation returns to Tangiers.
Charles de Mornay, Antoine Desgranges, and Delacroix disembark at Cadix, then the painter travels alone to Seville, where he remains eight days.
They return to Tangiers.
The mission leaves Morocco for good, traveling to Oran, the Algiers, where the delegation stays four days. Delacroix has an opportunity of seeing a harem in this town.
The delegation reaches Toulon. Delacroix returns from his North African trip with a multitude of drawings, watercolors, sketches, and notes, as well as seven sketchbooks. Four of these have survived intact. Three are in Paris at the Musée du Louvre and one at the Musée Condé in Chantilly. This trip profoundly transformed Delacroix’s way of painting, notably his perception of light.
Delacroix exhibits four paintings and several watercolors and drawings at the Salon. On 31 August, he receives his first decorative commission: the Salon du Roi in the Palais Bourbon, completed in 1837.
Five of Delacroix’s paintings are entered in the Salon, including three inspired from his trip to North Africa; one of these is Women of Algiers (Paris, Musée du Louvre). On 5 July, Louis-Philippe commissions the master to paint The Battle of Taillebourg for the Château de Versailles. Buloz asks Delacroix to paint a portrait of George Sand. An enduring friendship arises from this encounter. Through George Sand, Delacroix meets Chopin, who also becomes a friend.
Delacroix exhibits five paintings at the Salon. He also paint The Battle of Giaour and of Pacha (Paris, Musée du Petit Palais). Jenny Le Guillou starts working for him as his househoeeper.
A single painting by Delacroix is entered in the Salon, a Saint Sebatian that is purchased by the State for the church of Nantua (Ain).
The Battle of Taillebourg is completed; this is the only painting Delacroix enters in the Salon.
Five Delacroix paintings are exhibited at the Salon, including the first version of the Medea Slaying Her Children (Lille, Musée des Beaux-Arts) which is highlypraised. He starts Portrait of Chopin and George Sand (the canvas was never completed; it was cut in half: the portrait of Chopin is in the Musée du Louvre, that of George Sand in the Ordrupgaardmuseum in Copenhagen). In August, he receives a commission to decorate the library of the Palais Bourbon.
Only two of the five works submitted to the jury are accepted into the Salon: Cleopatra (United States, Ackland Art Centre, Chapel Hill) and Hamlet (Paris, Musée du Louvre).In September, Delacroix makes a brief trip to Belgium and Holland with Elizabeth Boulanger "to see the Rubens."
Delacroix exhibits Justice of Trajan at the Salon (Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts), a work which, once again, receives mixed reviews. After receiving a commission in June for a painting for the Saint-Denis-du-Saint-Sacrement church in Paris, Delacroix decides to paint a Pieta. On 3 September, he is asked to decorate the library of the Palais du Luxembourg.
Three paintings by Delacroix are presented at the Salon: The Crusaders Enter Constantinople, A Shipwreck, and The Jewish Wedding (Paris, Musée du Louvre).
In early 1842, Delacroix suffers his first acute case of laryngitis. He works concurrently at the library of the Palais Boubron and that of the Palais du Luxembourg. He does not enter any work in the Salon. He takes his first trip to visit George Sand in Nohant. While there, he paints Education of the Virgin (Paris, Musée National Eugène Delacroix).
Delacroix completes a series of thirteen lithographs based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet,as well as a series of seven lithographs inspired from Goethe’s Goetz von Berlichingen de Goethe.
In June, Delacroix rents a small house in Champrosay (Draveil), near the Sénart forest, where he had often stayed with his friends, the Villots.
Delacroix is represented at the Salon with five canvases, including Moulay-Abd-el-Rahmann, Sultan of Morocco, Leaving His MeQuinez Palace, Surrounded by his Guards and His Chief Officers (Toulouse, Musée des Augustins). Beginning of his friendship with Baudelaire. He spends one month, from July to August, at Eaux-Bonnes, a spa in the Pyrenee Mountains.
Delacroix exhibits three paintings and a watercolor at the Salon in March. On 5 July, he is promoted to officer of the Legion of Honor.
Delacroix starts writing in his Journal again and continues until his death. The tone is less personal than before; he records his thoughts about art and his readings. He exhibits six paintings at the Salon and completes the decoration of the library in the Palais du Luxembourg.
Delacroix sends six paintings to the Salon.
The Salon includes five of Delacroix’s paintings. In early spring, he receives a commission to decorate a chapel in the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris.
Delacroix is hired to complete the decor in the Galerie d’Apollon in the Palais du Louvre. During the summer, he travels to a spa in Bad Ems for a cure and makes a few trips to Flanders to study Rubens once again. He visits Brussles, Antwerp, Cologne and Malines. The Salon, held late in the year, exhibits five Delacroix paintings.
Delacroix is elected city councillor for Paris, a function he holds for ten years. He spends the late summer in Dieppe. He is asked to decorate the Salon de la Paix in the Hôtel de Ville of Paris.
He continues his decorative projects for the Saint-Sulpice church and the Hôtel de Ville. He spends July and August in Champrosay, and September in Dieppe.
Delacroix is represented at the Salon by three paintings. He makes several trips to Champrosay during the year.
He completes the decoration of the Salon de la Paix in the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. He remains in Dieppe for over a month between August and September, then visits his cousin Berryer in Augerville (Loiret).
In March-April, Delacroix is very involved in the organization of the first Universal Exhibition in Paris, for which the government asks him (as well as Ingres) to present a retropsective of his work. He also paints Lion Hunt for this event (Bordeaux, Musée des Beaux-Arts), which is a triumph. In the summer, he visits his cousin in Augerville; the Verninac family, relatives of his sister in Croze (Lot); and his cousins, the Lamey, in Strasbourg. From here, he even travels to Baden-Baden. He also makes frequent trips to Champrosay and travels to Dieppe. On 14 November, Delacroix is named Commmander in the Legion of Honor and receives the medal of honor during the awards ceremony following the Universal Exhibition.
Delacroix, once again ill, travels to the spa of Plombières for a cure. In October, he spends several days with his cousin Philogène Delacroix in Ante (Meuse), then travels to Ivry-en-Argonne, where his father was born.
On 10 January, after seven unsuccessive attempts, Delacroix is finally elected to the Institute. The day after his election, he proposes writing a Fine-Arts Dictionary, but the work is never completed. His health takes a serious turn for the worse and he does not send anything to the Salon. From May to July, he stays in Champrosay. In August, after a ten-day trip to Strasbourg, he makes a three week trip to the Plombières spa for a cure. In October, he travels to Augerville. On 28 December, Delacroix moves to 6 Rue de Furstenberg.
A prolonged illness keeps Delacroix in Paris for the first four months of the year. Starting in mid-July, he once again stays in Plombières. On 15 August, Delacroix purchases the Champrosay house. In late October, Delacroix is invited to Compiègne by Napoleon III. He ends the year in Champrosay.
For his final Salon, Delacroix sends eight paintings, which are poorly received. The critics reproach the unfinished aspect of his canvases. In the summer he returns to Ante, then to Strasbourg. In October, he is in Champrosay, then Augerville, and in November once again in Champrosay. In December he is working at the Saint-Sulpice church.
Another relapse in the early part of the year prevents him from working before March or April. Yet in February, he prepares an exhibition at the Galerie Martinet, 26 Boulevard des Italiens in Paris, where he shows sixteen paintings from different periods. In the autumn, he returns to his work at the Saint-Sulpice church. Starting on 21 August, the Saints-Anges chapel in Saint-Sulpice opens to the public. Delacroix spends an increasing amount of time in Champrosay, and stays in Paris for short periods only.
His health problems increasingly prevent him from working, even on easel paintings.
The winter is extremely difficult for the painter. In the spring, his doctors send him to Champrosay to rest. On 3 August, Delacroix dictates his will. He dies on 13 August at 7 am, watched over by Jenny Le Guillou. On 17 August, Delacroix’s funeral is held in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The painter in buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery.
The objects and artwork remaining in his studio are sold at the Hôtel Drouot (17-29 February)
Inauguration of Delacroix’s tomb, constructed by the architect Denis Darcy for the Père-Lachaise cemetery.
A retrospective exhibition of Delacroix’s work is organized at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The profits are slated to finance a monument to his memory in the Luxembourg garden, designed by Jules Dalou and inaugurated on 5 October 1890.