‘Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art: another corker of an exhibition from the National Gallery

Delacroix

Just back from seeing ‘Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art’, the National Gallery’s exhibition about the French Romanticist and the influence he had not just upon his peers but upon later generations of painters, some of whose works were also displayed.

One of the things I love about visiting exhibitions like this is what you learn about the painters not just as artists but also as human beings. I’ll be honest: much of what I saw today was not to my taste. What I really did appreciate, though, was Delacroix’s impassioned use of colour and the incredible energy of his paintings. Interestingly, it was the former, for which he is now so highly-praised, that was the cause of so much of the opprobrium Delacroix experienced in his lifetime. Yet despite the continued fierce criticism he refused to compromise and continued to paint how he wanted, where he wanted and when he wanted.

That’s what I mean about Delacroix the human being: it’s impossible not to admire someone who will stake their career & reputation on the ideas & ideals in which they believe. His influence on other painters cannot be over-estimated. Degas, Cezanne, Matisse, Gauguin and Monet all worshipped him, his influence strongly apparent in their works hanging beside his own. What a legacy Delacroix left behind, and what an educational – and engaging – experience this exhibition is.

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