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FERDINAND VICTOR EUGENE DELACROIX (17...

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 942 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FERDINAND VICTOR EUGENE DELACROIX (1798-1863), French historical painter, leader of the Romantic movement, was born at Charenton-St-Maurice, near Paris, on the 26th of April 1798. His father Charles Delacroix (1741–1805) was a partisan of the most violent faction during the time of the Revolution, and was foreign minister under the Directory. The family affairs seem to have been conducted in the wildest manner, and the accidents that befell the child, well authenticated as they are said to be, make it almost a miracle that he survived. He was first nearly burned to death in the cradle by a nurse falling asleep over a novel and the candle dropping on the coverlet; this left permanent marks on his arms and face. He was next dropped into the sea by another bonne, who was climbing up a ship's side to see her lover. He was nearly poisoned, and nearly choked, and, to crown all, he tried to hang himself, without any thought of suicide, in imitation of a print exhibiting a man in that position of final ignominy. The prediction of a charlatan founded on his horoscope has been preserved: " Cet enfant deviendra un homme celebre, mais sa vie sera des plus laborieuses, des plus tourmentees, et toujours livree a la contradiction." Delacroix the elder (also known as Delacroix de Contaut) died at Bordeaux when Eugene was seven years of age, and his mother returned to Paris and placed him in the Lycee Napoleon. Afterwards, on his determining to be a painter, he entered the atelier of Baron Guerin, who affected to treat him as an amateur. His fellow-pupil was Ary Scheffer, who was alike by temperament and antecedents the opposite of the bizarre Delacroix, and the two remained antagonistic to the end of life. Delacroix's acknowledged power and yet want of success with artists and critics—Thiers being his only advocate—perhaps mainly resulted from his bravura and rude dash in the use of the brush, at a time when smooth roundness of surface was general. His first important picture, " Dante and Virgil, " was painted in his own studio; and when Guerin went to see it he flew into a passion, and told him his picture was absurd, detestable, exaggerated. " Why ask me to come and see this? you knew what I must say." Yet his work was received at the Salon, and produced an enthusiasm of debate (1822). Some said Gericault had worked on it, but all treated it with respect. Still in private his position, even after the larger tragic picture, the " Massacre of Chios," hadbeen deposited in the Luxembourg by the government (1824); became that of an Ishmaelite. The war for the freedom of Greece then going on moved him deeply, and his next two pictures—" Marino Faliero Decapitated on the Giant's Staircase of the Ducal Palace " (which has always remained a European success), and " Greece Lamenting on the Ruins of Missolonghi "—with many smaller works, were exhibited for the benefit of the patriots in 1826. This exhibition was much visited by the public, and next year he produced another of his important works, " Sardanapalus," from Byron's drama. After this, he says, " I became the abomination of painting, I was refused water and salt,"—but, he adds with singularly happy naivete, " J'etais enchante de moi-meme!" The patrimony he inherited, or perhaps it should be said, what remained of it, was ro,000 livres de rente, and with economy he lived on this, and continued the expensive process of painting large historical pictures. In 1831 he reappeared in the Salon with six works, and immediately after left for Morocco, where he found much congenial matter. Delacroix never went to Italy; he refused to go on principle, lest the old masters, either in spirit or manner, should impair his originality and self-dependence. His greatest admiration in literature was the poetry of Byron; Shakespeare also attracted him for tragic inspirations; and of course classic subjects had their turn of his easel. He continued his work indefatigably, having his pictures very seldom favourably received at the Salon. These were sometimes very large, full of incidents, with many figures. " Drawing of Lots in the Boat at Sea," from Byron's Don Juan, and the " Taking of Constantinople by the Christians " were of that character, and the former was one of his noblest creations. In 1845 he was employed to decorate the library of the Luxembourg, that of the chamber of deputies in 1847, the ceiling of the gallery of Apollo in the Louvre in 1849 and that of the Salon de la Paix in the hotel de ville in 1853. He died on the 13th of August 1863, and in August 1864 an exhibition of his works was opened on the Boulevard des Italiens. It contained 174 pictures, many of them of large dimensions, and 303 drawings, showing immense perseverance as well as energy and versatility. As a colourist, and a romantic painter, he now ranks among the greatest of French artists. See also A. Robaut, Delacroix (1885) ; E. Dargenty, Delacroix par lui-meme (1885) ; G. Moreau, Delacroix et son ceuvre (1893) ; Dorothy Bussy, Eugene Delacroix (19o7). DE LA GARDIE, MAGNUS GABRIEL, COUNT (1622–1686), Swedish statesman, the best-known member of an ancient family of French origin (the D'Escouperies of Languedoc) which had been settled in Sweden since the 14th century. After a careful education, completed by the usual grand tour, Magnus learned the art of war under Gustavus Horn, and during the reign of Christina (1644-1654), whose prime favourite he became, though the liaison was innocent enough, he was raised to the highest offices in the state and loaded with distinctions. In 1646 he was sent at the head of an extraordinary mission to France, and on his return married the queen's cousin Marie Euphrosyne of Zweibrucken, who, being but a poor princess, benefited greatly by her wedding with the richest of the Swedish magnates. Immediately afterwards, De la Gardie was made a senator, governor-general of Saxony during the last stages of the Thirty Years' War, and, in 1652, lord high treasurer. In 1653 he fell into disgrace and had to withdraw from court. During the reign of Charles X. (1654–166o) he was employed in the Baltic provinces both as a civilian and a soldier, although in the latter capacity he gave the martial king but little satisfaction. Charles X. nevertheless, in his last will, appointed De la Gardie grand-chancellor and a member of the council of regency which ruled Sweden during the minority of Charles XI. (166o-1672). During this period De la Gardie was the ruling spirit of the government and represented the party of warlike adventure as opposed to the party of peace and economy led by Counts Bonde and Brahe (qq.v.). After a severe struggle De la Gardie's party finally prevailed, and its triumph was marked by that general decline of personal and political morality which has given to this regency its unenviable reputation. 942 It was De la Gardie who first made Sweden the obsequious hireling of the foreign power which had the longest purse. The beginning of this shameful " subsidy policy " was the treaty of Fontainebleau, 1661, by a secret paragraph of which Sweden, in exchange for a consid?rable sum of money, undertook to support the French candidate on the first vacancy of the Polish throne. It was not, however, till the 14th of April 1672 that Sweden, by the treaty of Stockholm, became a regular " mercenarius Galliae," pledging herself, in return for 400,000 ecus per annum in peace and 600,000 in war time, to attack with 16,000 men those German, princes who might be disposed to assist Holland. The early disasters of the unlucky war of 1675–1699 were rightly attributed to the carelessness, extravagance, procrastination and general incompetence of De la Gardie and his high aristocratic colleagues. In 1675 a special commission was appointed to inquire into their conduct, and on the 27th of May 1682 it decided that the regents and the senate were solely responsible for dilapidations of the realm, the compensation due by them to the crown being assessed at 4,000,000 daler or £500,000. De la Gardie was treated with relative leniency, but he " received permission to retire to his estates for the rest of his life " and died there in comparative poverty, a mere shadow of his former magnificent self. The best sides of his character were his brilliant social gifts and his intense devotion to literature and art. See Martin Veibull, Sveriges Storhetstid (Stockholm, 1881); Sv. Hist. iv.; Robert Nisbet Bain, Scandinavia (Cambridge, 1905). (R. N. B.)
End of Article: FERDINAND VICTOR EUGENE DELACROIX (1798-1863)
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