(K. Brent Tomer),
The fame of Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) is greater than familiarity with his work in most places apart from his native France. There his murals decorate important public buildings; his portrayal of “Liberty leading the People” (1830), in which, bare-breasted and rosy-cheeked, she holds aloft the tricolore in one hand and a rifle in the other, is a national icon. Lack of widespread awareness of his work elsewhere is not entirely surprising. In England he has not been the subject of a major exhibition for more than half a century.
The arrival of “Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art” at the National Gallery in London, therefore, is cause for celebration. Whether he is painting horses or lions, North Africa, scenes from mythology, the Bible or wars, his pictures sing out with colour, passion and imagination; elements that are as engulfing and exciting as the subjects themselves; sometimes more so. In his “Women of Algiers in their Apartment,” (1847-9), for instance, the air is filled by perfumed dust; the bent knee of the figure in the foreground—barely covered by short, radiantly blue, silver-trimmed satin trousers, shimmers…Continue reading