Guide Tour of National Eugene-Delacroix Museum, Paris, France

The Musée national Eugène Delacroix is an art museum dedicated to painter Eugène Delacroix. At this dedicated museum you can explore the great French painter’s life, his artwork, and his studio. On display are many of Delacroix’s early works including small oil paintings, pastels, and sketches.

Delacroix (1798 – 1863) is regarded as the leader of the French Romantic movement in art. He took his inspiration from Rubens and Venetian Renaissance painters who focused on bold colors, sensuality, and a sense of movement in their works. His most famous painting, “Liberty Leading the People”, which hangs in the Louvre-Lens museum in northern France.

The Delacroix museum is a unique place. Artist’s house and place of memory, created in homage to Delacroix by the greatest artists of the 1920s – Maurice Denis, Paul Signac, Édouard Vuillard, Ker-Xavier Roussel. Located in the heart of Paris, in the former apartment and studio of the painter Eugène Delacroix, the National Eugène-Delacroix Museum forms a singular and captivating museum space, a rare place in Paris.

The museum is located in painter Eugène Delacroix’s last apartmen. Since the museum was founded in 1932, the museum’s collections have brought together more than a thousand works. They bring together works by Delacroix – paintings, drawings, prints, manuscripts – like objects that belonged to him, and works created by artists who admired him.

In 1952, the Société acquired the apartment, studio, and garden, and in 1954 donated the property to the French government. In 1971, the site became a national museum, and in 1999 its garden was renovated. Léon Printemps had his studio in this same building, where he died on 9 July 1945.

Today the museum contains Delacroix’s memorabilia and works, exhibiting pictures from nearly every phase of his career, including the artist’s only three attempts at fresco from Valmont (1834); the Education of the Virgin painted in Nohant in 1842; and Magdalene in the Desert exhibited at the 1845 Salon. Since 2004 the museum has been managed by the Louvre.

A place of memory but also a place of life, the Eugène-Delacroix National Museum takes part in various national cultural events such as the Fête de la Musique, the Night of the Museums, the Heritage Days, the FIAC, the Printemps des Poètes, etc. The museum also participates in various events such as Designer’s Days, the Paris Face Caché festival, Rendez-vous au Jardin, Photo Saint-Germain and the Paris Music Festival. Around its program, the museum offers family workshops, conferences, concerts and meetings for varied and diverse audiences, young and old, familiar with the museum and new visitors.

Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school. Delacroix took for his inspiration the art of Rubens and painters of the Venetian Renaissance, with an attendant emphasis on colour and movement rather than clarity of outline and carefully modelled form. Dramatic and romantic content characterized the central themes of his maturity, and led him not to the classical models of Greek and Roman art.

As a painter and muralist, Delacroix’s use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of colour profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement. A fine lithographer, Delacroix illustrated various works of William Shakespeare, the Scottish author Walter Scott and the German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Eugène Delacroix spent most of his life in Paris. The city and its various districts retain traces of the life and work of the great painter. Delacroix is ​​very present in the capital, on each side of the Seine, thanks to the various accommodations he occupied, to the workshops where he worked. Several public and religious buildings that he decorated testify to his unique talent as a decorative painter.

Eugène Delacroix paints a historical picture inspired by the events of 1830, Liberty Leading the People, a masterful work linking ancient allegory and contemporary representation. The work is acquired by the State and exhibited at the Luxembourg Museum, the museum of living artists where the paintings of contemporary creators are shown. Exhibited at the Louvre from 1874, with the other works by Delacroix acquired by the State, Liberty Leading the People (Louvre) became, under the Third Republic, an iconic painting.

At the National Assembly, Delacroix decorated the Salon du Roi (1833-1838), then the library (1840-1846); in the Senate, the library (1840-1851). At the Louvre Museum, he received the commission for the ceiling of the Galerie d’Apollon (1850-1851). He had also designed the decor of the Salon de la Paix for the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, between 1851 and 1854; decoration disappeared in the fire of the building in 1871. With the exception of this last set, all the civil decorations of Delacroix are in place and can be admired. The Delacroix museum preserves the model of the decoration of Orpheus for one of the hemicycles of the ceiling of the library of the National Assembly as well as the model of the hemicycle of the library of the Senate, Alexander having Homer’s poems locked in a chest in gold.

Eugène Delacroix received numerous commissions for religious paintings. The churches of Paris preserve exceptional works by the painter. At the Church of Saint-Paul/Saint-Louis, Christ in the Garden of Olives, commissioned in 1824, for which the Delacroix Museum holds a related work. In the church of Saint-Denis-du-Saint-Sacrement, the chapel of the Virgin is decorated with a very moving Pietà, (1840-1844), for which the Delacroix museum keeps an Annunciation, the painter’s first thought for this decor. One of the last great masterpieces of the painter is kept in the chapel of Saints-Anges in the church of Saint-Sulpice. Delacroix designed the entire decor of the chapel there, between 1849 and 1861. The Delacroix museum keeps several preparatory works for these magnificent works.

The Delacroix Museum is located on the first floor of 6 rue de Furstemberg, in the apartment occupied by the painter Eugène Delacroix from 1857 to 1863. The studio designed by the artist and the pretty garden he laid out, like a hermitage in the heart of Paris, are the assets of a secret place, to be discovered.

The Place de Furstemberg where Delacroix chose to settle is one of the most charming in Paris. Since installation, the premises have remained intact. They offer a rare testimony to the Parisian architecture of the middle of the 19th century.

The layout of the premises between courtyard and garden, the charm of an old building, typical of Parisian architecture from the end of the 18th century, the calm of the garden, give the Delacroix museum a unique cachet. The square is planted with four large trees which, in the spring, give it a particularly romantic appearance, accentuated by the night lighting of a lamppost with five globes.

Access the museum through a wide double-leaf porch. An independent staircase, located in the center of the facade, serves the apartment of which Delacroix was the tenant. It was the painter who had this monumental staircase installed which ennobles his apartment.

Once in the courtyard of the building, access the museum by the monumental staircase used by Delacroix and his guests. An elevator was installed in 2014 to allow access to all. The apartment is organized around a small corridor which, in Delacroix’s time, served as an antechamber to his apartment.

The three directly served rooms, the former dining room, the bedroom and the living room of Delacroix now house the museum’s collections – paintings, drawings, prints, writings by the artist or his admirers. The last room of the apartment, formerly the painter’s library, overlooks the garden, and gives access to it. It is a living room, reserved for our visitors to read, dream, write, watch films and videos.

A wooden and metal staircase, similar to the one Delacroix had installed for him, leads down to the painter’s studio, a place of creation, designed by the artist as a tribute to his own creation. Located in the heart of the museum, Delacroix’s studio houses the key works of the collections. Many events and events take place there: concerts, conferences, creative workshops, etc.

Today the museum contains Delacroix’s memorabilia and works, exhibiting pictures from nearly every phase of his career, including the artist’s only three attempts at fresco from Valmont (1834); the Education of the Virgin painted in Nohant in 1842; and Magdalene in the Desert exhibited at the 1845 Salon.

The Eugène-Delacroix museum brings together a collection of works by the artist covering a large part of his career. It retains paintings, sketches, drawings, prints, lithographs, lithographic stones, objects that belonged to Delacroix, his color palettes, but also all of his writings, and certain letters from his personal correspondence. Because Delacroix is ​​indeed a painter, but also a very good engraver and draftsman, as well as a writer.

The museum keeps some masterpieces by Delacroix. The Madeleine in the desert, which appeared at the Salon of 1845, subsequently caused much ink to flow, and caught the attention of contemporary critics such as Baudelaire: “Here is the famous head of the Madeleine reversed, with a bizarre and mysterious smile, and so naturally beautiful that one does not know if it is haloed by death, or embellished by the swoon of divine love”, but also attracted many art historians and enthusiasts of the artist, rightly.

Another important canvas: the Education of the Virgin. Delacroix painted her in 1842, when he visited George Sand at her chateau in Nohant, Berry, when she was then beginning an affair with Frédéric Chopin, whom Delacroix noticeably admired. The work, originally intended for the church of Nohant, was actually kept by George Sand who adored it, while a copy made by her son Maurice was sent to the church.

Also a major work, Romeo and Juliet at the Tomb of the Capulets must be admired for the place that this Shakespearian subject took in the imagination of Delacroix who knew the play perfectly, creating a composition inspired by the theatre. Delacroix in fact drew his sources directly from the version played by the English actors which had been modified to give more pathos to the scene: Juliet wakes up while Romeo is still alive despite the poison ingested. He pulls his lover from her coffin, and holds her tight against him, standing at the front of the stage.

The Portrait of Auguste Richard de La Hautière is part of a series called “portraits de la pension Goubaux”, commissioned from Delacroix by Prosper-Parfait Goubaux, director of the Saint-Victor institution in Paris. Delacroix would have produced between 1824 and 1834 ten portraits, all of the same dimensions, which adorned the salon of the institution. Beautifully sketched, this portrait of Auguste-Richard de la Hautière, winner in 1828 of the second prize for the Latin version, commands attention with its finesse of execution and its delicately romantic charm. The influence of English portraits is evident here. The representation of the model in front of a landscape recalls the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, whom Delacroix admired. And the lively expression of the model with parted lips evokes the beautiful portraits of SirThomas Lawrence, whom the painter visited, who marked him deeply during his stay in London in 1825.

Finally, the museum keeps copies after Delacroix, such as that of Henri Fantin-Latour who reproduced the Women of Algiers in their apartment. This work demonstrates the influence that Delacroix exerted on artists of subsequent generations, since Fantin-Latour made this copy in 1875. The artist aroused great interest among painters of the late 19th century and early 20th century..

Conversely, the collections also include works by Delacroix inspired by works he could admire. The Study after one of Goya’s Caprices, two plates of medieval bookbindings and an oriental jacket constitutes a workshop painting par excellence, and underlines several sources of inspiration for Delacroix: Goya, obviously, and covers of medieval bindings from the National Library where the painter liked to go regularly. Finally, the red jacket tail is reminiscent of his studies of Souliote costumes painted between 1822 and 1825 from oriental clothing borrowed from his friend Jules-Robert Auguste.

In 2015, the museum acquired a new work by Delacroix: Cardinal Richelieu saying mass in the chapel of the Palais Royal. The painting was probably commissioned from the painter in 1828 by the Duke of Orleans, the future Louis-Philippe, for his historical gallery of the Palais-Royal. There was a large painting for this subject, which was exhibited at the Salon of 1831, and which disappeared in the fire of the Palais-Royal in 1848.

Prints and Lithographs
Many prints and drawings are also kept and exhibited in the museum. Whether they are prints illustrating passages from plays by English playwrights such as Shakespeare or Nicholas Rowe, or studies of felines or horses, they are incredible testimonies of Delacroix’s talent in the field of engraving and drawing. The museum thus has an almost complete collection of the artist’s original lithographs, which can be considered true masterpieces.

Le Tigre royal, a lithograph from 1829, is a fabulous demonstration of Delacroix’s ability to draw animals, with games of contrast and depth in the treatment of the tiger and the landscape, without even having ever seen this feline from his life. The first Bengal tiger arrived at the Natural History Museum in 1830. Delacroix therefore transposed his anatomical studies from lion to tiger, with all the virtuosity shown in this lithograph.

The artist’s lithographs show his talent as an illustrator, essentially turned towards English works which he carefully read. Delacroix is ​​passionate about the theater, frequents English theaters. Delacroix produced many lithographs around these themes, such as Jane Shore, from the eponymous play by Nicholas Rowe. Delacroix depicts Jane dying of exhaustion in the arms of her husband, whose love has not ceased despite his wife’s affair with King Edward IV. Her death was brought about by her successor, Richard III, who demanded that she do penance for her libertine conduct, and therefore condemned her to wander the streets in her shirt, a candle in her hand.

The hanging changes regularly, giving the most complete visibility of the collections, and presenting prints and drawings that cannot remain exposed to daylight for more than three months.

The museum library
If Eugène Delacroix is ​​mainly known for his talents as a painter, his literary work is much less famous. However, Delacroix is ​​a true man of letters. If he embraced a career as a painter despite his hesitations, the master never stopped writing: in his diary, through his correspondence, and in a few writings where his admiration for Voltaire and Rousseau shines brightly. Des dangers de la cour, written when he was 18, crystallizes his inspirations for the authors of the Enlightenment, a real initiatory journey, this short story is intended to be philosophical, moral and political.

The museum also keeps Delacroix’s early manuscripts, as well as autograph letters from the artist. His taste for writing shines through his personal writings, which are extremely thoughtful. Delacroix sometimes takes up letters in his diary, he also happens to rework them. It must therefore be understood that the artist was aware that his writings would one day be published, after his death.

These letters are also interesting for understanding the painter’s ideas and working methods. The Autograph with color spots illustrates this habit of Delacroix to note on scattered sheets ideas for subjects for his paintings. Here, he copies a few lines from the article by A. Lebre read in the Revue des deux Mondes of theJuly 15, 1842, about a course taught at the College de France on Egyptian archeology by M. Letronne which then attracted a large audience. He retains the description of a setting illustrating a court of the dead in a Theban tomb, and also notes the twelve labors of Hercules.

The library of the Delacroix museum centralizes many writings around the artist, his painted, drawn, engraved and literary work, but it also strives to shed light on its context. Works on 19th century art, numerous monographs of painters, from Leonardo da Vinci to Henri Matisse, are kept there, not to mention a complete shelving devoted to contemporary literature by Delacroix, in particular numerous works by and on Baudelaire, George Sand or Byron. The library currently includes more than 2,200 books, mostly in French, but also in English and German for some of them. In 2016, it benefited from a profound reorganization according to a thematic classification, allowing the reader to orient himself easily. The library is being computerized.

Leaving the studio, go down a few more steps to discover the garden laid out by Delacroix like a hermitage in the heart of Paris. Combining flowers and fruits, this garden with generous flowering was renovated in 2012 in the image of that of the painter. A preserved space, the garden is a space that is open to you to read, dream, share, exchange.

It is also a place that regularly hosts works by contemporary artists. Johan Creten, José Maria Sicilia, Stéphane Thidet, Constance Guisset, Katrinka Bock have already exhibited their works there, chosen or designed in homage to Delacroix.