Henri-Edmond Delacroix, son of French father and British mother, was born in Douai in 1856 and spent his childhood and youth in Lille. At the age of ten, he took drawing and painting lessons from E.A. Carolus-Duran and then studied briefly under Colas at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
In 1878, he settled in Paris and there made friends with François Bonvin whose work influenced him for some time. In 1881, Delacroix first exhibited at the Salon under the English pseudonym of Cross, which he had chosen in order not to be confused with Henri-Eugène Delacroix who was exhibiting at the same period. Under the influence of Impressionists, especially after his trips in 1883 to the South of France and his meetings with Monet, he altered his style from the dark colors of realism to the brighter ones of Impressionism.
In May 1884, Cross took part in the first exhibition of the Salon des Artistes Indépendants and, in 1891, was elected Vice-President of the Société des Artistes Indépendants. By then he had become one of the leading exponents of Neo-Impressionism. His style changed sharply. He painted with rectangular divided strokes, creating canvases full of color, e.g. The Iles d'Or, Beach on the Mediterranean, Evening Breeze. As many of his friends Cross supported Anarchism and drew illustrations for their magazines. The summer of 1904 Cross spent in Saint-Tropez with Paul Signac. There he got acquainted with Matisse; under the influence of the Pointillist manner the latter created his famous Luxe, calme et volupté.
Cross often visited Italy and in 1908 he spent July and August in Tuscany and Umbria, visiting Florence, Pisa, Assisi and other Italian towns. Here he painted many studies of nature, which he used for his 1909 and 1910 landscapes. Cypress Trees at Cagnes. View of the Church of Santa Maria Degli Angeli near Assisi. Signac called Cross the lonely genius, ‘impassive and consistent thinker, who is simultaneously a passionate and strange dreamer’. From year to year Cross’ palette became richer and richer; the strong colors of his late works are close to Fauvism.
Rheumatism compelled the artist to spend his summers in the South of France; he finally settled at Saint-Clair where he died on May 16, 1910.
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Neo-Impressionist Painters: A Sourcebook on Georges Seurat, Camille Pissarro, Paul Signac, Theo Van Rysselberghe, Henri Edmond Cross, Charles Angrand by Russell T. Clement, Annick Houze. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999.