Delacroix’s innovations were of great consequence to the Impressionists who shared his determination to produce paintings that reflected the vivacity of contemporary France.
Although his paintings tended to be a historical subjects he had realised before any of the Impressionists were born, that quick energetic brushstrokes could recreate on canvas the intense energy of French revolutionary life.
It was about capturing the mood of the moment. Or as he put it : “if you are not skilful enough to sketch a man jumping out of a window in the time it takes him to fall from the fourth story to the ground, you will never be able to produce great works.”
It was a pointed remark aimed at his bete noir and fellow countryman Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, who was born in 1780, an artist who slavishly toed the Academy’s neoclassical line, sharing their fixation with the past and, as Delacroix saw it, their ridiculous favouring of draftsmanship over painting.
He summed up his position thus : “Cold exactitude is not art, so-called consciousness of the majority of painters, is only perfection applied to the art of boring, people like that if they could, would work with the same minute attention on the back of the canvases”.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.