Liberty Leading the People
MODERN French painting begins with Eugene Delacroix. He was born into
an age of revolt, a world of political insurrections and unparalleled discord
among the artists; the time had come to slay the academic incubus, and having
one of the finest minds of the century, he found himself, when a very young
man, the leader of the radical forces.
When the plague of the house of David
lay upon art, Delacroix came forward in a blaze of color, and was named
the champion of individual freedom in painting. He rooted out the sham
classicism which was choking French art to death, introducing action, turbu
lence, and brilliant color.
(This Limited Edition Original Book Plate/Lithograph, May still be for sale ) see Our Sales sites
Click the Links for Access –
There is something of Delacroix in all his successors;
he had intellect and ideas, and a program that has been dismembered
a hundred schools and subdivisions.
He failed in his attempts to destroy
the academy, but he stands in relation to modern painting as France once
stood in relation to the whole world, and as the commanding figure stands
in one of his most thrilling pictures: Liberty Leading the People.
Delacroix was not opposed to historical themes or classical subject matter
he reveled in both, with catholic tastes and liberal judgments; he was opposed
to the sterility of the Salon bureaucrats who tried to paint in the classic style.
Nor did he condemn the efforts of the official artists to glorify the state-he
was a patriot himself, willing to sweat and suffer for the traditional glory of
His passion for freedom, which exemplifies the most heroic elements
of French culture, was inflamed by the revolt of 1830, when the Republican
cause of France was delivered from the Bourbon dynasty.
the deliverance, Delacroix, his imagination gloriously excited, painted one
of his great pictures, invoking the symbol of liberty, the sacred genius of his
nation, to flaunt the tricolor and lead the veterans and the children to victory.
It is one of the few pictures in history in which a symbolical figure is success
fully incorporated with realistic action.
Because of its political implications,
the painting received official recognition, but the academic crowd, deploring
the modern treatment, howled in derision and called it a mockery of art.