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Eugène Delacroix. Freedom Guiding the People. (1830).



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Eugène Delacroix. Freedom Guiding the People. (1830).

The scene is held on July 28th, 1830, 2nd day of the 3 Glorious ones, during which the flagTricolor is hoisted on Notre-Dame of Paris and the Town hall conquered by the insurrectionists. The painting represents one of the barricades characteristic of these revolutionary days, one could count some more than 4000, taken by storm in the middle of the corpses and of wounded by a group of men of various social origins recognizable to the pace and clothing. They are carried out by an young woman, allegory of Freedom, stripped bust, Tricolor flag and rifle with bayonet in hands, framed of Gavroche, kid of the suburbs describes by Victor Hugo in the Poor wretches and of a middle-class man considered as the self-portrait of Delacroix, resulting from an easy family. Construction is pyramidal, rising bodies of the foreground to the flag whose red bursts in the middle of a hot general tonality. Work is exposed to Paris with the Living room of 1831.
The painting is at the same time painting of reality and allegory, painting of history and image of topicality. The woman of the people is symbol of freedom, the combatants, workman, craftsman, middle-class man, street urchin, represent all the social layers of the people out of weapons. In a mixture of realism and idealism, raw description and heroism, the painting is militant…

The horizon which the spectator guesses with the background relatively high, is located on one the higher third of the painting. The characters are seen of face.

The young woman and the child of the streets are located close to the point of natural interest higher right of the painting. The 2 points of natural interests and the lower tension field are at the level of the corpses. 

The large downward diagonal from left to right delimits the border between the dark zone and the clear zone of painting. 2 movements are suggested : a passage of the zone sinks towards the clear zone, a movement of rise towards the flag and the light. 

The guiding lines evoke a pyramid. Deaths constitute the base, the rifle of Delacroix and the position of small Gavroche composes the 2 sides. Freedom is located at the top of this geometrical figure.

The young woman flag and rifle with the hand look backwards. It invites the people to follow it. In this direction the painting is militant because the symbol of freedom requires a passage to the action. The picture is bought by the French State in 1831. 

A gun in each hand, the young boy of the streets, such Gavroche left the Poor wretches, advances without fear, the expression of its face shows its heat and its will. 

Capped of a top hat and rifle with the hand Delacroix represents itself at the side of Freedom. It symbolizes the middle-class men , identifiable by her clothing, the painter is resulting from an easy family, his father is diplomat then prefect. As his friend Géricault Delacroix is progressist, impassioned justice and enthusiast of freedom. 

The scene is held on an accumulation of corpses in the foreground. Those which already fell give an additional dramatic dimension to the picture. The same painting with before plan representing of the naked paving stones or a released street would not have the same intensity. Moreover lifeless body evokes a monticule which the protagonists must span to continue, allusion of the price to be paid so that the people gain his freedom. 

The light comes from the back of the scene. Behind the flag. It contributes to highlight this same flag and the young woman, allegory of Freedom.
This swirl of light undoubtedly comes from a fire but it lights the sky as if the sun rose behind the group of characters moving. 

The carryforward of the colours used to work out the painting on the chromatic circle indicates a harmony between hot colours.

Few cold colors, especially the hot colours.