AN ANALYSIS OF EUGENE DELACROIX’S LIBERTY LEADING THE PEOPLE

As a superior example of the style associated with Romanticism,
prevalent in the first half of the nineteenth-century in which imagination
and the illustration of literary themes played dominant roles, Eugene
Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830, oil on canvas) symbolizes the
events of his own time, most notably the popular struggle against
repression and tyranny during the Parisian Revolution of July, 1830 which
overthrew the restored Bourbons and placed Louis Philippe on the throne of
France. In Liberty Leading the People, Delacroix made no attempt to
represent realistically a specific incident; instead, he provides an
The main figure in this painting, a partly nude, majestic woman whose
beautiful features wear an expression of noble dignity, symbolizes liberty
as numerous armed citizens rush forward toward unseen barricades, a very
familiar revolutionary image associated with the streets of Paris. Liberty
herself, wearing the cap of liberty, carries the tricolor banner of the
French Republic and a musket with bayonet as she advances over the dead and
dying bodies of her supporters and the royal French troops. Gathered around
her are bold and angry Parisian types, such as the street boy with his
pistols, the menacing proletaire with a cutlass and the intellectual dandy
in a plug hat and armed with a sawed-off musket which may be a self-
portrait of the artist. In the background, rising through the smoke and
mayhem, are the towers of Notre Dame that bear witness to the ancient
tradition of liberty cherished by the people of Paris through the long
history of France. In essence, Liberty Leading the People is an artistic
document of the intimate union of revolution and Romanticism and conveys
more powerfully than any other early
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nineteenth-century painting the political temper of revolution

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