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Eugene Delacroix Dante And Virgil In Hell

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Delacroix's painting of the massacre at Chios shows sick, dying Greek civilians about to be slaughtered by the Turks. One of several paintings he made of this contemporary event, expressed the official policy for the Greek cause in their war of independence against the Turks, war sustained by English, Russian and French governments. Delacroix was quickly recognized by the authorities as a leading painter in the new Romantic style, and the picture was bought by the state. His depiction of suffering was controversial, however, as there was no glorious event taking place, no patriots raising their swords in valour as in David's Oath of the Horatii, only a disaster. Many critics deplored the painting's despairing tone; the artist Antoine-Jean Gros called it "a massacre of art". The pathos in the depiction of an infant clutching its dead mother's breast had an especially powerful effect, although this detail was condemned as unfit for art by Delacroix's critics. A viewing of the paintings of John Constable and the watercolour sketches and art of Richard Parkes Bonnington prompted Delacroix to make extensive, freely painted changes to the sky and distant landscape.



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