Eugene Delacroix was born in 1798 at Charenton-Saint Maurice, near Paris into a distinguished artistic family. He received a classical education until the age of 17 when he was apprenticed to the history painter, Antoine-Jean Gros. Delacroix’s artistic career began in 1822 with the acceptance by the Paris Salon of his first painting, “The Barque of Dante”. In 1825, while in England, he studied the work of English painters, such as J.M.W. Turner. He showed an affinity with Lord Byron and other Romantic poets of his time. He also drew subjects from William Shakespeare, Dante and medieval history.
Delacroix produced numerous masterpieces in rapid succession from 1827 to 1832, among them, “The Death of Sardanapalus”, “The Execution of the Doge Marino Faliero” and “The Battle of Nancy”. In 1827, Delacroix explored the newly invented medium of lithography and produced a set of 17 lithographs, which illustrated a French edition of J.W. von Goethe’s “Faust”.
In 1832, he traveled to Algeria, Spain and Morocco with King Louis-Phillipe’s diplomatic representative to the sultan, Count de Mornay. Delacroix found Morocco to be a revelation, seeing in it a Homeric nobility and beauty that he had not experienced in French academic Neoclassicism. During this trip he made copious notes and sketches that he used to great effect upon his return to Paris. As a result, his work became more free, his use of color more vivid.
During the latter part of Delacroix’s career, he received numerous commissions to decorate government buildings. At the time of his death in 1863, he had produced some 6,000 drawings, watercolors and prints to be sold.