Horse Illumination of
Eugène Delacroix

From Doubt to Certainty:
An Artist's 40-Year
Journey to God

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)
Horse Frightened by a Storm

Delacroix's Self-Portrait (1837)
Musée du Louvre, Paris

October 12 is Columbus Day— celebrated as the day when Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, the Americas in 1492. But for Eugène Delacroix, October 12 marks a day of inner discovery when his mind underwent a spiritual transformation from doubt to certainty. Notice the first journal entry of 10-12-1822 made when he was only 24 years old. The young artist was looking at the outer world of planets and stars, doubting God's existence, believing that this universe was a product of chance. Nevertheless, he yearned for a Heavenly Father to welcome him home at the end of his earthly journey. Read the second journal entry of 10-12-1862— it's exactly 40 years later (40 is the symbol of transformation), and Delacroix is 64 years old. He's now a master of painting, "Father of Romanticism", his works exhibited at the Louvre. Delacroix's doubt is gone with the revelation that “God is within us.” His mind has soared to new dimensions of heightened awareness of beauty and bliss. When I first read these two entries of October 12 in The Journal of Eugène Delacroix as a graduate student at Cornell, I copied them in my notebook for inspiration. Some years later, the French government awarded me a summer grant for a "Protein Folding" workshop at the University of Paris. I visited Delacroix's Studio at 6, Rue de Fürstenberg to thank his spirit for illumination. I also visited his Liberty at the Louvre and Jacob Wrestling the Angel at Saint-Sulpice for further inspiration on spiritual awakening. was launched on October 12, 1998 to honor the Spirit of Inner Discovery that is always blooming within us. May your discoveries be fruitful. — PYC

I just saw Orion shining for a moment amid black clouds and a raging wind. I thought first of my vanity, in comparison with those suspended worlds. Then I thought of justice, of friendship, of the divine sentiments engraved on the heart of man, and I no longer found anything great in the world save man and his Creator. This idea impresses me. Can it be that He does not exist? Can chance, by combining certain elements, have created the virtues— reflections of an unknown grandeur? If chance had made the universe, what would conscience, remorse, and devotion signify? Oh, if you can believe, with all the strength of your being, in that God who invented duty, your indecision will be settled. For admit that it is always this life— fear for it or for your comfort— that troubles the fleeting days, which would pass peacefully, if, at the end of the journey, you saw the bosom of your Heavenly Father waiting to welcome you. I must leave this to go to bed— but I have dreamed most pleasantly. I see some progress in my study of horses.

          — Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), Journal, Paris, evening, October 12, 1822

God is within us; it is that inner presence which makes us admire the beautiful, which rejoices us when we have done right and consoles us for not sharing the happiness of the wicked. It is that, beyond a doubt, which constitutes the inspiration of men of genius and which warms them at the spectacle of their own productions. There are men of virtue as there are men of genius; the one group and the other are inspired and favored by God. And so also the reverse would be true: there would thus be natures in whom the divine inspiration has no effect, who coldly commit crime, who never rejoice at the sight of the honest and of the beautiful. And so there are men favored by the eternal Being. Misfortune, which frequently, too frequently, seems to attach itself to these great hearts, does not, happily, cause them to succumb during their short passage: the sight of the wicked laden with the gifts of fortune should in no wise overcome them; what do I say? often they are consoled on seeing the trouble and the terrors which besiege evil beings and make bitter their prosperity. Their punishment, during the present life, is often to be witnessed. For the other group, the inner satisfaction of obeying divine inspiration is a sufficient recompense: the despair of the wicked, struck down in their unjust enjoyments, is....

                      — Eugène Delacroix, Journal, Augerville, October 12, 1862

The Journal of Eugène Delacroix
translated from the French by Walter Pach
Grove Press, New York, 1961, pp. 42-43 & p. 697

Top of Page | October 12 Entries | Delacroix Paintings: CGFA (15) | WebMuseum, Paris (19) | The Artchive (30) | Olga's Gallery (54) | OCAIW (95)
"The Other Side of Delacroix" (International Herald Tribune 4-18-1998) | "From Saints to Sunsets: Works of Delacroix " (Smithsonian Sept. 1998)
"Delacroix: French Romantic Art" (Laura Katajisto) | "Delacroix: Portrait of a Master" (Art Lovers' Paris) | "Delacroix: Classicist or Romanticist"
Delacroix Biography (National Gallery of Art) | Delacroix Biography (Catholic Encyclopedia) | Delacroix Biography (Encarta Encyclopedia)
Selections from Delacroix's Journal | Painting and the Journal of Eugene Delacroix | Delacroix Museum, Paris | Delacroix on the Internet | Home

© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (10-12-2001)