It is today, my Dear Mother, that
we celebrate your Day. There is no better gift
Than the bouquet of Completing
My schoolwork well, it’s the best sign of my devotion
That I can show you, this, I know. Yet,
I long to please you.
Dear Mother, I think of you always, as much as I can
I see you forever painted in my
Thoughts, drawn as the Best of all Mothers.
By Eugène Delacroix
When he wrote this letter, at the young age of eight, Delacroix was a student at the « Lycée Impérial » (Lycée Louis-le-Grand). Born near Paris in Charenton-Saint-Maurice, the young painter-to-be was only seven years old when his father (a former deputy, minister, and prefect) died in 1805. His mother, Victoire, part of the famous Œben cabinet-maker family, died in 1814, leaving the sixteen-year-old Delacroix indefinitely orphaned.
Liberty Leading the People, The Massacre at Chios and Women of Algiers in their Apartment are among many other masterpieces signed by Delacroix, whose debut at the « Salon officiel » was marked by his Dante and Virgil in Hell canvas.
Greeted with both scandal and success throughout his career, Delacroix began working in Pierre-Narcisse Guérin’s studio in 1815. He studied at the Beaux-Arts and began working at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, copying medieval manuscripts.
His work would later become the toast of the Universal Exhibition in 1855, and he would soon be elected to the Institut de France in 1857.
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