Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art
17 February – 22 May 2016
The first UK exhibition of paintings by the dramatic, Romantic painter in 50 years explores how his work went on to inspire many of the modern greats.
Delacroix was a revolutionary; his experiments with expressive brushstrokes, optical effects, bold colour and exotic subject matter transformed French painting in the 19th century, as well paving the way for new thinking among subsequent generations of artists. At the time of his death in 1863 he was the most revered painter in Paris, having created an estimated 9,140 works.
This thematic display draws on examples of Delacroix's religious, historical, literary and landscape painting to explore his remarkable influence on a variety of artists, from his contemporaries Courbet and Géricault through to 20th century greats Van Gogh, Matisse and Kandinsky. As Cézanne would later say: 'We all paint in Delacroix's language'.
How did Delacroix influence artists from Vincent van Gogh to Jackson Pollock? Find out with our infographic.
In particular it highlights how his work directly contributed to the founding of Impressionism, with key pieces by Manet and Renoir – who would practise by making copies of his work – and Renoir, who bought one of the artist's portraits for his own collection.
The exhibition will chart Delacroix's interest in Orientalism, which was unusual for the period. In 1863 he travelled to Spain and North Africa in the hopes of experiencing a more primitive culture and found himself entranced by the people and their customs. He created over 100 paintings during the trip and it inspired future paintings in the years to come.
For more on the artist see Delacroix: Romantic Revolutionary by Rachel Spence in the winter issue of Art Quarterly.