Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art – a long overdue homage?

Leona Tan

By Leona Tan, Analyst, Operational Transaction Services


I recently dropped by the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing to visit Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art. The exhibition follows Delacroix’s life and legacy and has brought together many pieces of work celebrating his genius.

National gallery
Ceiling detail at the National Gallery

As I entered the gallery, I was greeted by beautifully and skilfully painted canvasses. I was inspired not only by Delacroix’s paintings but a number of the other paintings, such as Fields of Flowers in Bloom, near Caen by Jean Metzinger. The neo-impressionist painting, which uses pointillism to portray the fields of flowers, transported me to the tranquility of the flower fields in the countryside.

One of my favourite paintings was The Apotheosis of Delacroix by Paul Cezanne, in which Delacroix relaxes among the clouds and is revered as a deity by Impressionist painters like Monet and Pissaro. Indeed, Delacroix’s fame transformed after his death as his works were exhibited and he gained firm supporters for his talent and contribution to the art of the 19th century.

At the end of the exhibition, a large painting, Immortality by Henry Fantin-Latour, bade me goodbye. It features rose petals being showered on Delacroix’s grave, with his name faintly visible.  This was one in a series of allegorical compositions honouring artistic genius, executed by Fantin-Latour during the 1870s and 1880s. Among these compositions is also a tribute to Richard Wagner, a famous German composer; a painting which is very similar to his Delacroix tribute.

Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art is a truly great exhibition. I would encourage everyone to see it.

Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art is open until 22 May 2016. EY employees receive free access as part of our corporate partnership with the National Gallery.