Painting table analysis

Eugène Delacroix - Freedom guiding the people

Delacroix, Freedom guiding the people

Eugène Delacroix - Liberty Leading the People - 1831 - Louvre - photo Guy Mauchamp

Eugène Delacroix wrote to his brother at the start of this famous painting: " I have undertaken a modern subject, a barricade, and if I have not conquered for the fatherland at least I would paint for it ".

The power and the originality of this scene of the French revolution of 1830 imposed it in popular imagery like that of freedom on the march which became a true national icon.

This work is a very rich, dynamic and eventful composition. She made use of several composition techniques. So let us detail it by starting with the first gestures of composition: the harmonic grids, then we will see the vertical and horizontal narrative lines, the oblique parallel lines, and finally the looks of the characters.

Harmonic grids

Delacroix would have made extensive use of the harmonic grids since it is possible to identify three which condition the location of 13 points of the first composition rule. These are the grid of the sky (in blue) and earth (in green) squares, the grid of the half-medians (in white), and the grid of the half-bisectors (in gray).

Delacroix, Freedom guiding the people - The harmonic grids of composition.

Eugène Delacroix - Freedom guiding the people - The harmonic grids of composition

On the other hand, the grid of the half-medians highlights a horizontal organization of the composition:

The upper part with the face of Marianne, the French flag and the arms against a background of combat smoke,

the central part with the rebellious people, the screaming child and a large number of weapons,

the lower part with the dead in combat.

Delacroix, Freedom guiding the people - The grid of half-medians.

Eugène Delacroix - Freedom guiding the people - The harmonic grid of the half-medians

Vertical and horizontal lines

The vertical and horizontal lines were used to connect the dots of the characters with the flag and the weapons:

Delacroix - Freedom - vertical lines of composition

Eugène Delacroix - La liberté guidant le peuple - composition avec les verticales et horizontales

Parallel oblique lines

Delacroix used several obliques to offer a visual sensation of friction and conflict. Beyond the visual aspect, Delacroix again connects the points of the characters with the flag and the weapons. Note on two parallels the presence of two "markers" with the tip of the flag and the tip of Marianne's hat.

Delacroix, Liberty - Parallel obliques of the flag

Eugène Delacroix - Freedom guiding the people - Parallels to the oblique mistress of the flagpole.

Below the parallel obliques of Marianne's rifle. This oblique mistress points to Marianne's toe on the march towards freedom.

Delacroix, Liberty - Parallel obliques of the flag

Eugène Delacroix - Freedom guiding the people - Parallels to the oblique mistress of Marianne's gun.

There are still several parallel obliques to find in this eventful composition.

I suggest you find yourself the parallels to the oblique mistress of the rifle held in hand by the top man.

Delacroix - Liberty - Oblique mistress of the man's gun

Eugène Delacroix - Freedom guiding the people - The oblique mistress of the human gun.

When the oblique lines outlined above are superimposed, the tangles are very rich and complex:

Delacroix, La liberté, les lignes obliques de composition.

Eugène Delacroix - Freedom guiding the people - All the obliques of composition.

The looks of the characters

THE VIEWS OF MARIANNE

Marianne is mainly concerned by her flag which she brandishes while looking at her thumb (her will), the arms of the revolutionaries and her forward march with her foot and that of the child crossing the barricade.

Delacroix, La Liberté - Les regards de Marianne.

Eugène Delacroix - Freedom Guiding the People - Marianne's Looks.

THE CHILD'S LOOK

The eyes of the child are completely congruent with those of Marianne: he essentially looks at the Republican flag and the arms while his open mouth (the only one on the scene) seems to cry "with citizen arms ..."

Delacroix - La liberté - Regards de l'enfant

Eugène Delacroix - Freedom guiding the people - The eyes of the child.

Do not hesitate to leave your comment, your questions at the bottom of the page, my pleasure is to be able to exchange with you on the pictorial composition. Thank you.

 

Guy MAUCHAMP

Work protected by a copyright © guymauchamp U79J1B9 and a Legal deposit at the SGDL Paris.