Eugène Delacroix
(Charenton-Saint-Maurice, 1798-1863, Paris)
Triumph of Bacchus, ca. 1861
Oil on canvas, 92 x 143 cm
Johnson 253
Delacroix had won awards for Greek and Latin as a student, and Classical Antiquity remains a fixed, inalienable part of his education, something not to be separated even from Delacroix the Romantic. Although until his old age he was never able to satisfy his wish to experience the art of Antiquity in Italy himself – even in the last years of his life he considered going to Italy with his old friend Baron Schwiter – the spirit of Antiquity accompanied him throughout his life. However, it is not so much Antiquity in the sense of the Classicism of a David, or Ingres or as he learned about it from his first teacher, the David enthusiast Pierre Narcisse Guérin, as early as 1815, disembodied and formalistic, but it is the Classical such as he found it reborn in the inspired refractions of the Renaissance and the Baroque, of a Raphael and Michelangelo, a Poussin and Rubens. Delacroix joined these brilliant renewers of Antiquity, in that he endowed with new life the inherited rules of Latin Classicism, filling it with the freedom of his own, individual personality.