Leader of the French Romantic School of art, Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix was born on April 26, 1978. Delacroix's use of brushstrokes and optical effects of color shaped the work of the Impressionists. His excitement for the exotic inspired the Symbolists. He illustrated works for William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Walter Scott.
Delacroix followed the style of Rubens and Venetian Renaissance painters. He used movement and color in his painting rather than the accepted form of outline. His love of the dramatic led him to North Africa in search of exotic art themes. He was an admirer of Lord Byron and loved to watch nature in violent action. Delacroix loved passion but attempted to express this passion in clear art.
Delacroix trained alongside Pierre-Narcisse Guerin in a neoclassical style. His Church commissioned The Virgin of the Harvest (1819) displays a Raphael influence, but his next commission The Virgin of the Sacred Heart (1921) is his own interpretation. Delacroix's first major painting The Barque of Dante was accepted by the Paris Salon in 1922, but caused a sensation and was derided by the public. He then painted The Massacre at Chios which was accepted.
Delacroix's most famous painting was Liberty Leading the People painted in 1830. It is an image of Parisians marching under the banner representing liberty, equality and fraternity.
Beginning in 1833 Delacroix was commissioned to decorate public buildings in Paris. He painted the library at the Palais Bourn and the Library at the Palais de Luxembourg. He decorated the Church of St. Denis de Saint Sacrement in 1843 and painted the ceiling in the Aalerie d'Apollon of the Louvre in 1848-1850.
Painting ceilings was tiring and he suffered from a fragile constitution. He retired to the country where Jeanne-Marie le Gillou, his housekeeper protected his privacy and extended his life. He died on August 1, 1863 at the age of 65. His legacy includes a description as a curious mixture of skepticism, dandyism, willpower and politeness. He had a special tenderness that accompanies genius.