Brilliant - gives an insight into the psychology of the man with lots of - I think that too moments! Shines a light on how Paris was working at the time and how all the artists knew each other... so opens up the social and cultural context (you can then apply this to give insight to other periods. And (the second part especially) is brimful of painting tips and like having a chat with a famous artist about what he thinks of contemporary painting - how they use line, sketchy vs details, models vs invented, colour etc. You can also apply your art history (as you know more than he did) and think - Wow! Yes, this prefigures impressionism... so it's a window into the flux of artistic thinking at the time. Not in a second hand history book way but as if you are living it. BRILLIANT!
A book that continues to be a delight after first reading for all the insights into painting that this great colourist shares. His huge and influential circle of acquaintances and friends show his colourful life in more than just painting and his popular and vibrant personality leaps off the page. Surprising also are the occasional insights into his apparent questioning of himself and even hints of a thread of lack of self esteem which seems rather a sad discovery in the midst of such an influential and rebellious life. He was prepared to risk severe criticism when he broke the classical mould and ventured helter skelter into the romantic movement that was beginning to boil up. Some wonderful hints for colour mixing especially flesh colours which were a forte of his. Most of all I should say that this journal shows the humanity of the man and one feels privileged to have shared these intimate moments back in time with this delightful personality.
Fantastic insight into the mind of - what is to me - one of the most brilliant painters to have ever lived. "The last of the renaissance painters and the first modern", as Baudelaire calls him, discusses just about everything: from painting techniques to philosophy, music, arts, science, history, the future, social commentary - it's all in there. Delacroix was well-read, and could express his thoughts quite clearly, even though he states he was only writing for himself.
A fervent admirer of Rubens, he combined the best of Italian Renaissance and Flemish tradition. Romantic, to be sure, but, in his own words, his work is "the purest classicism!" And if it's not Delacroix you're interested in (but how could you not?) then surely one of his friends or acquaintances: Chopin, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Baudelaire and more - take your pick.
While he was not a fan of the cold, rigid academic principles, he saw himself as a classicist, often ranting about would-be (art, music and literature) reformers, accusing them of leading people off the "well-trodden path" to a path that, abandoning "all that is true and beautiful", could only lead to a "state of savagery". How true! And how ironic, therefore, that modernist painters cited and continue to cite him as the catalyst for the new art movements!
All in all a great read for anyone with a slight interest in the arts, culture and history, and a must for lovers of 19th century (French) art.
This is one of those books that there is a sheer delight in reading the observations and introspections of a very intelligent artist, but one whose sense of the ironic is perhaps borrowed from Voltaire, and whose rationale aesthetics find echoes in Sir Joshua Reynolds. He belongs to a small stream in the French intelligensia which include anglophiles like Taine, who are a joy to read. Delacroix does not hide, as perhaps Degas might have done, and Pissaro does not. This translation also seems able to take you back to time and place, which is super. And this is the shorter version!