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The Enlightenment Essay

1108 words - 5 pages

If the Enlightenment was a movement which started among tiny elite and slowly spread to make its influence felt throughout society, Romanticism was more widespread both in its origins and influence. No other intellectual/artistic movement has had comparable variety, reach, and staying power since the end of the Middle Ages. Beginning in Germany and England in the 1770s, by the 1820s it had swept through Europe, conquering at last even its most stubborn foe, the French. Beginning in the last decades of the 18th century, it transformed poetry, the novel, drama, painting, sculpture, all forms of concert music (especially opera), and ballet. It was deeply connected with the politics of the time, ...view middle of the document...

Born on April 26, 1798, Delacroix was the son of Charles Delacroix and Victoire Oeben. His father was a minister of foreign affairs and later ambassador during the French revolution. Rumour has it that Eugène's real father was the prominent diplomat Talleyrand. For 40 years Eugène Delacroix was one of the most prominent and controversial painters in France. Although the intense emotional expressiveness of his work placed the artist squarely in the midst of the general romantic outpouring of European art, he always remained an individual phenomenon and did not create a school. As a personality and as a painter, he was admired by the impressionists, postimpressionists, and symbolists who came after him. He was influenced by the work of Rubens and Veronese and later by that of Velàzquez and Goya. Delacroix would soon become the most important member of the French Romantic Movement.

In 1815, he entered the studio of the neoclassical painter Pierre Narcisse Guérin, and he began to take painting lessons from him. While there, he met Théodore Géricault, a romantic painter, and became heavily influenced by him and his work. Delacroix's first painting, The Barque of Dante, was accepted by the Paris Salon in 1822. It marked the beginning of his artistic career. In 1825 he spent a few months in England, where he was inspired by the poet Lord Byron and the landscape painter Constable. He admired John Constable's English landscapes, which reintroduced into France the baroque colouristic tradition that the neoclassical painters had earlier discarded. Constable's landscapes are supposed to have influenced Delacroix's Massacre at Chios, shown in 1824. Based on an incident in the Greek war of independence, the painting is as exotic as Delacroix's later North African pictures and is filled with a romantic taste for violence. After a journey through Spain, Algeria and Morocco (1832) his work paid much attention to exociticism and orientalism - typical romantic subjects. He filled notebooks with drawings of local details, amassing facts for the paintings with Oriental subjects he would introduce into French art. Among the most striking are the tiger and lion hunts and scenes of animal violence, which were created as much from imagination and from Rubens as from direct observation of animal behaviour in Africa or Paris. Perhaps the sketch Lion Hunt (1854), done in preparation for a large painting in Bordeaux, is the...

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