Liberty Leading the People

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 Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830
By EMMA SHAPIRO
"The Sensual and the Dark rebel in vain,
Slaves by their own compulsion! In mad game
They burst their manacles and wear the name
Of Freedom, graven on a heavier chain!
O Liberty! with profitless endeavour 
Have I pursued thee, many a weary hour;
But thou nor swell'st the victor's strain, nor ever
Didst breathe thy soul in forms of human power."
          "Dejection: an Ode" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge,

In this poem Coleridge talks about the feeling of joy towards a lady. This poem relates to Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix from Coleridge's use in the words "Liberty" and "Freedom" and create a dark and weary setting. 

Liberty Leading the People depicts the July revolution of 1830 and like many Romantic era paintings, encompasses terror, violence, and heroism. He uses bold brush strokes and dark colors to communicate feelings of grand heroism and angry despair. Delacroix also paints people of all different social classes (for example, the man in the top hat and the man next to him in the tattered white shirt on the left) and does so to show that the revolution united the people of France. He also believed that many people had an impact on the revolution, not just the people fighting. He drew himself as the man in the top-hat because be thought that although he did not fight, he painted propaganda which had a major impact in his mind. Delacroix paints himself as the "high class man" in the painting, and possibly chooses to do so because he sees himself as superior to those who actually fought. 

France gifted the United States the Statue of Liberty in 1886 and many believe that the model for the statue had been based off of Liberty in Delacroix's painting. A woman symbolizes Liberty to represent that it is an idealistic liberty and not a real person. Delacroix along with most of society in the 19th century believed that no woman had enough power or strength to have such a role in a major propaganda painting. Simultaneously, Delacroix shows Liberty bare breasted as a symbol of power, feminine/supernatural strength, and possibly motherly care as she takes care of and leads the young men. 


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