* 1856 Douai
† 1910 Saint Clair/Var
Henri-Edmond Cross was born Henri-Edmond-Joseph Delacroix in Douai on 20 May 1856. He changed his name in 1883 for the obvious reason that it was too similar to that of Henri-Eugène Delacroix. After training under Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran in Lille, Cross enrolled at the Écoles Académiques de Dessin et d'Architecture in Lille in 1878 to continue his studies under Alphonse-Victor Colas. In 1881 Cross moved to Paris, travelling to the South of France in 1883, a trip that awakened his enthusiasm for landscape painting. Although his still lifes, portraits and interiors had been rendered in subdued tones, Cross's palette now lightened considerably and he developed an Impressionist style of painting. At the newly established Salon des Indépendants in 1884, Cross met Seurat and Signac, who would soon establish the Neo-Impressionist movement.
Henri-Edmond Cross painted his first picture in the pointillist-divisionist manner in 1891. Because he suffered from rheumatism, Cross moved to the Mediterranean with his future wife, the model Irma Clare. Maintaining his contact with the Neo-Impressionists in Paris, also through Signac, a friend of long years' standing who worked at Saint-Tropez, Cross sent work regularly to important exhibitions in Paris and abroad.
Until 1895 Cross studied the effects created by the Mediterranean sun, translating its brightness into pale colours. After 1895 he intensified his palette and worked with broader brush strokes, which also enabled him to work more quickly. Cross also worked more intensively on the theory of art, translating Ruskin into French and supporting the publication of friends' writings. In 1903 Cross went to Venice, which inspired him to work in watercolours and oils. The following year he met Matisse at Saint-Tropez, who was duly impressed and even influenced by Cross's work. In 1905 Cross had a solo show at Druet, which marked the acme of his success. Following a Symbolist phase, Cross's work now became increasingly free and lyrical. Cross enlivened his landscapes by peopling them with nudes and glorified nature by heightening it with scenes from mythology. In 1908 Cross went once more to Italy. Henri-Edmond Cross died in Saint-Clair on 16 May 1910. As a leading exponent of Neo-Impressionism, he is represented by works in numerous museums world-wide.