Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art

This event was held from 17 February 2016 to 22 May 2016

17 February – 22 May 2016

Sainsbury Wing Exhibition



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“We all paint in Delacroix’s language,” observed Cézanne

From the bold colours and abstract shapes of Matisse and Kandinsky, to the expressiveness of Van Gogh and Gauguin, to the vibrant complementary colours of the Impressionists. All can be traced back to Eugène Delacroix – the last painter of the Grand Style but equally one of the first modern masters, who transformed French painting in the 19th century.

‘Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art’ is a long-overdue homage to France’s leading exponent of Romanticism – a true original who, at the time of his death in 1863, was the most revered artist among the avant-garde in Paris.

Drawing inspiration from British art and literature, his real and imagined travels to North Africa, and biblical scenes; every chord of human passion can be found in Delacroix’s paintings – stories of love, murder, violence, and war. “The first merit of a painting is to be a feast for the eye,” he emphasised towards the end of his life.

Placing Delacroix alongside contemporaries such as Courbet and Chassériau, this exhibition traces 50 years of Delacroix’s legacy, exploring the profound impact he had on generations of artists to come.

This exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Exhibition generously supported by:


Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne

With additional support from:
The Daniel Katz Gallery, London
The Robert Lehman Foundation
Jacqueline & Jonathan Gestetner

Image above: Detail from Eugène Delacroix, 'Lion Hunt', 1861 © The Art Institute of Chicago. Potter Palmer Collection, 1922.404