CROSS, Henri-Edmond
(b. 1856, Douai, d. 1910, Saint-Clair)


French painter and printmaker. Born Henri-Edmond-Joseph Delacroix, the only surviving child of Alcide Delacroix, a French adventurer and failed businessman, and the British-born Fanny Woollett, he changed his name in 1881, shortening and Anglicizing his birth name to Henri Cross. Later, in 1886, he adopted the name Henri-Edmond Cross.

He was encouraged as a youth to develop his artistic talent by his father's cousin, Dr Auguste Soins. He enrolled in 1878 at the Ecoles Académiques de Dessin et d'Architecture in Lille, where he remained for three years under the guidance of Alphonse Colas (1818-87). He then moved to Paris and studied with Emile Dupont-Zipcy (1822-65), also from Douai, whom he listed as his teacher when exhibiting at Salons of the early 1880s. His few extant works from this period are Realist portraits and still-lifes, painted with a heavy touch and sombre palette.

Cross's career took a decisive turn in 1891, when he adopted the Neo-Impressionist technique and showed at the Indépendants exhibition his first large work in this style, the portrait of Mme H. F. (now titled portrait of Mme Cross; Paris, Musée d'Orsay). Also in this year, he moved to the south of France, staying first at Cabasson and then settling in Saint-Clair, a small hamlet near St Tropez where Signac also took up residence in 1892. Cross lived in Saint-Clair for the rest of his life, travelling twice to Italy (1903 and 1908) and annually to Paris for the Indépendants shows.

In the early and mid-1890s, as he developed the Neo-Impressionist method, Cross concentrated on seascapes and scenes of peasants at work. The Beach of Baigne-Cul (1891-92; Chicago, Art Institute) is characteristic of his highly regular technique: over a densely painted ground he placed small and relatively round touches in rows, more or less equally spaced, and mixed colours with white to express the bleaching action of sunlight.

Cross is most acclaimed as a master of Neo-Impressionism, and he played an important role in shaping the second phase of that movement. He was very influential to Henri Matisse and many other artists, and his work was an instrumental influence in the development of Fauvism.

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