“If you are not skillful enough to sketch a man jumping out of a window in the time it takes him to fall from the fourth storey to the ground, you will never be able to produce great works”, that was the creed of Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1863), the leader of the French Romanticism. He emphasized color and movement in his works, a break from tradition, that would inspire the birth of Impressionism and modern art as we know it.
Liberty Leading the People (1830) is perhaps Delacroix’s most famous and influential painting. The choice of a modern subject – the July 1830 revolution to overthrow King Charles X, the innovative use of color and brush strokes offer a lot of dynamism and significance to the painting.
Its central figure is a woman holding with one hand the French flag and with the other a bayoneted musket. She is portrayed like a Goddess of Liberty, guiding the people of France to revolt against the monarchy. Standing on a pyramid of human bodies, belonging to different social classes, Liberty symbolizes the common goals that unite all French people: liberty, fraternity, equality. Her symbolism is so profound, that it later on inspired Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty in New York City.