Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830.
Delacroix captured the passion and energy of the 1830 revolution in France in his painting Liberty Leading the People. Based on the Parisian uprising against Charles X (r. 1824-1830) at the end of July 1830, it depicts the allegorical personification of Liberty, defiantly thrusting forth the French Republic’s tricolor banner as she urges the masses to fight on. She wears a scarlet Phrygian cap (the symbol of a freed slave in antiquity), which reinforces the urgency of this struggle. Arrayed around Liberty are bold Parisian types—the street boy brandishing his pistols, the menacing worker with a cutlass, and the intellectual dandy in top hat with sawed-off musket. Dead bodies lie all around. In the background, the Gothic towers of Notre Dame rise through the smoke and haze. The painter’s inclusion of this recognizable Parisian landmark specifies the locale and event, balancing contemporary historical fact with poetic allegory.
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