Henri-Edmond Cross was born Henri-Edmond-Joseph Delacroix on 20 May 1856 in Douai, Nord, France. Delacroix studied art under various artists before entering the École des Beaux-Arts in Lille and later, in 1878, the Écoles Académiques de Dessin et d’Architecture where he would study under Alphose Colas. In 1881, he changed his name to Henri-Edmond Cross to distinguish himself from Eugène Delacroix and travelled to Paris to continue his studies, exhibiting for the first time in the Salon des Artistes Français.
Cross’ early paintings were portraits and still-lifes in the dark, brooding palette of Realism. This would change as his work began to incorporate influences from Édouard Manet and the Impressionists. In 1884, Cross co-founded the Société des Artistes Indépendants, where he would become friends with many leaders of the Neo-Impressionist movement including Georges Seurat, Charles Angrand, Odilon Redon and Paul Signac. Cross would continue to paint in the style of the Impressionists en plein air during the late 1880s, only turning towards the Neo-Impressionist style in 1891 with his portrait, Madame Hector France (Musée d’Orsay, Paris). The same year, Cross would move to the South of France due to his rheumatism, eventually settling in Saint-Clair. Close friend, Signac, would move to nearby Saint-Tropez in 1892.
Cross would remain in Saint-Clair throughout his life, except for two visits to Italy (1903, 1908) and annual visits to Paris to exhibit at the Salon des Indépendants. He continued to paint in a divisionist style, developing an affinity for landscapes, sea views and scenes of country life until the mid-1890s, where he abandoned tiny coloured dots for broader, orderly brushstrokes redolent of mosaic tessellations. Cross’ first solo show was the Galerie Druet, Paris, in 1905 and two years later Félix Fénéon organised a retrospective of his oeuvre at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune. Cross died on 16 May 1910, in Saint-Clair.
Cross’ work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia; Cleveland Museum of Art; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK), Copenhagen; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Kunstmuseum Basel; Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
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