Liberty Leading the People

Liberty Leading the People

Module 6 – Liberty Leading the People Heather Wroe Grand Canyon University History of Ideas UNV-200 Mikki Tatum September 20, 2011 Module 6 – Liberty Leading the People Eugene Delacroix’s painting, Liberty Leading the People was painted in 1830 to commemorate the 1830 July revolution in France that resulted in overthrowing the king of France, Charles X. Two of the ideals and artistic elements of romanticism reflected in this work of art are the political nature of the work of art and the tone of the painting. Both of these elements work together to evoke an emotional response and as a result the painting has become a symbol of the revolution.

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Liberty Leading the People is political in nature because it demonstrates the citizen’s desire to break free from the aristocracy and political unrest. This painting portrays the romantic idea that all classes could band together in their struggle and that there should be no rigid class structure. All classes, with the exception of the monarchy, were portrayed in the painting as part of the revolt. The attire of the characters, particularly the hats, represents the many social classes fighting in the revolution. The factory worker with an uplifted saber on the left sports the hat typical of his class; next to Liberty is a young man waving two pistols and wearing the black beret traditionally worn by university students. ” (Benford , 2011) There is even a man in a top hat, representing the middle class. The peasant leading the way is a barefoot woman who personifies Liberty; she holds a musket in one hand and the tricolor revolutionary flag in the other. Lady Liberty bands the classes and sexes together to fight the injustices of the time. The second element that demonstrates romanticism is the painting’s tone.

The tone was passionate and full of feeling; this is in contrast to the dry scientific nature of the paintings seen in the Age of Enlightenment. The painting shows an array emotions in the faces of the people as they lay injured or dying, ranging from anguish, heroism, anger, and despair. The survivors appear determined as they walk over the ruble and their dead and injured comrades in an effort to press forward in their fight. Lady Liberty shows strength in her posture as she leads the other revolutionaries however this is in stark contrast to her vulnerability seen in her torn dress and exposed breast.

All of these images depict the violence of the event and the raw emotions are clearly seen in the figures’ faces. These images are meant to create an emotional response in the people that see the painting. This emotional response to the painting was one of the aims of the Romantic Movement. The political motivation and subject matter of Liberty Leading the People, and the intense, emotional tone of the painting combine to make this work of art a classic example of the Romantic Movement. The painting’s aim is not to educate the viewer to the events of the revolution but to help the viewer feel the event.

These elements successfully work together in Liberty Leading the People making it “immediately associated with the French Revolution” and “demonstrates the capacity of Painting to become the symbol of an age. ” (Fernandez, 2011) References Benford , S. (2011). Famous Paintings: Liberty Leading the People, 1830. Retrieved from http://www. themasterpiececards. com/famous-paintings-reviewed/bid/53727/Famous-Paintings-Liberty-Leading-the-People-1830 Fernandez, G. (2011). “Liberty leading the People”. Retrieved from http://www. theartwolf. com/masterworks/delacroix. htm


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