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The Religious Paintings of Eugène Delacroix: Professor Joyce C. Polistena, Ph.D. Explores the Work and Controversial Life of the “Hero of Romanticism,” via New Canaan Library Webinar

June 7, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


French Romantic artist Eugène Delacroix is best known to Americans for his painting, Liberty at the Barricades (1830). HIs innovative color theory and intensely felt subjects earned him the title “the hero of Romanticism.” However, the artist’s prolific and extraordinary contributions to the genre of religious art had been overlooked for more than a century. New Canaan Library welcomes Joyce C. Polistena, Ph.D., professor of art history and author of The Religious Paintings of Eugène Delacroix: The Initiator of the Style of Modern Religious Art, for an insightful look at Delacroix’s religious art: the broad body of work, and the artist’s personal perceptions and conflicted views on religion.

In his lifetime, Delacroix’s religious scenes of the passion were lauded by members of the élite class, who recognized the depictions of the sufferings of Jesus almost exclusively in terms of their own anxieties in contemporary society. In succeeding eras, as avant-garde theorists relegated religious subjects to a moribund genre, Delacroix’s considerable output of religious subjects were either ignored or dismissed. However, Delacroix kept a diary from the age of 23 until his death in 1863 at the age of 65, in which he recounted the persons and ideas of his era as well as his personal perceptions and beliefs. The writing reveals an artist who counters the portrait of him created by theorists and brings to light the meaning these topics held for him.

Joyce C. Polistena, Ph.D. is an art historian and a professor of art history at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. She has written extensively on topics in 19th-century Romanticism with a focus on the artist Eugène Delacroix. Polistena’s book, The Religious Paintings of Eugène Delacroix: The Initiator of the Style of Modern Religious Art, prompted a new engagement with his religious subjects.


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