Elena G. Goikhman
(Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia)
Tradition in the Work of Eugène Delacroix. Romantic Painting of the 1820s and the Art of the Old Masters.
The essential characteristic of the French romantic painting of 1820s is a combination of the old styles (Venetian art, Spanish school, Baroque style) and new subjects (literature, historical anecdotes, life of exotic oriental civilizations). Four the largest and the most principal pictures of Eugène Delacroix — “The Barque of Dante”, “The Massacre of Chios”, “The Death of Sardanapalus” and “The Liberty leading the people” — are inspired by representations of heavenly appearances, triumphs, apotheosis widespread in the art of XVII century. Delacroix keeps the traditional pyramidal and diagonal compositional scheme with a main character or a significant center surrounded by other actors. But the painter changes the roles and emotional connections between his personages. Delacroix puts a spectator at the place of the main character instead of the secondary participants who expressed in the old art defined emotions. He refuses the traditional rhetoric and represents the Romantic loneliness, he doesn’t seek the impression of immediately action and gives the sense of meditation about the past and future events. The innovations of Delacroix find the similar tendencies in the paintings of his contemporaries. The detachment of Sardanapalus and the Greeks of Chios reminds David’s Brutus and Leonidas, the vision of an other world by Dante is related with the Neoclassical art “around 1800” and the motive of visitation can be found in the scenes of historical anecdotes (Troubadour Style, Bonington. Ingres). At last the use of an allegory for representation of the contemporary event in “The Liberty leading the people” continue the tradition of Revolutionary feasts and civic processions. All these means are intended by Delacroix to affect the imagination of his spectators.