Eugène Delacroix (1798 - 1863)
Self-Portrait (fragment), 1837
Oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm
Louvre, Paris

Before you is a self-portrait by the French artist Eugene Delacroix. A strong and independent person is looking at us. Tousled hair hints at his turbulent character. A friendly but insightful look brings a sense of live communication with the artist. Bright colors, the play of light and shadow make the portrait emotional.

Delacroix was born into a diplomat’s family. He developed a passion for drawing during trips to Normandy with his uncle, who dabbled in painting.

The 17-year-old Eugene entered the class of a famous Parisian artist, and a year later was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts.

The neoclassical style reigned at the Academy at that time. Professors demanded that young artists follow strict rules, according to which images should be naturalistically perfect, and be characterized by softened tones and accurate proportions. Subject matters were supposed to be respectable, emotionally restrained, and sublime. Ordinary objects were rejected as unworthy, coarse, and vulgar.

However, Delacroix strove for a different painting style, more colorful and emotional and free of any restrictions.