Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix ( 1798 – 1863) was a French Romantic painter and lithographer as well as muralist whose works inspired both Impressionists and Symbolists. His works focus on color and dramatic movement. Born near Paris, it is has been surmised that his real father was Tallyrand, evidenced by the fact that throughout his life he was protected by him. His presumed father, Charles Delacroix, and his mother died early and left Eugene an orphan at 16. During his school years he won numerous awards for his drawings, and in 1815 he began studying the neoclassical style of Jacques-Louis David. He was also highly influenced by Peter Paul Rubens and Théodore Géricault. In 1832 Delacroix travelled to North Africa and produced over 100 paintings of life there and is known as one of the most important of the Orientalists. Delacroix saw animals as an integral part of his Orientalist/Romantic paintings and he portrayed them as dramatic emotional beings.
Known primarily for his large portrayals of lions, lionesses and tigers, Delacroix was also interested in domestic cats, capturing the animal in his drawings as an agile, beautiful hunter not unlike its bigger cousins. Delacroix said, “Colour always occupies me, but drawing preoccupies me.” And the cat loving Champfleury wrote: “Topping the list of contemporary artists who concerned himself with cats is Eugene Delacroix, a nervous and febrile creature. The sketchbooks sold following his death showed the relentless studies he had made of the animal. Yet there is not a cat in any of his paintings, the reason being he turned them all into tigers!”
In 1862 he helped create the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts with his friend and fellow cat lover Théophile Gautier.
Delacroix died in 1863 and is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.