In terms of form, Liberty Leading the People still reflected the strong impression made on Delacroix by the art of Géricault, especially the Raft of the Medusa; the fact that Delacroix made an allegory of Liberty shows he was familiar with traditional conventions. The clutter of sprawling bodies in the foreground provides a kind of base for the pyramid of the figures in the center, which builds the heavy, inert forms of the dead and dying to the frantic energy of Liberty and the citizens still engaged actively in the struggle. The flashes of light suggest gunfire, while the intermingling of light and shadow echoes the confusion of the battle and the dense atmosphere stirred up by conflict. The forms were generated from the Baroque, as they were in Géricault, but Delacroix's sharp agitation of them created his own special brand of tumultuous excitement.
Delacroix's early use of the vignette shows him to have been an innovator. He was always studying the problems of his craft and always searching for fresh materials to supply his imagination. These were conscious efforts on his part; he said,
"style can only result from great research"'
No other painter of the time explored the domain of the Romantic subject and mood as thoroughly and definitively as Delacroix, and none matched his style and technique. Delacroix technique -- impetuous, improvisational, and instinctive, rather than deliberate, studious and cold -- epitomizes Romantic painting. In the end his friend Silvestre, in the language of Romanticism, delivered a eulogy that amounts to the definition of the artist:
Thus died, almost with a smile on August 13, 1863, the painter of great race, Ferdinand Victor Eugéne Delacroix, who had the sun in his head and storms in his heart; who for fouty years played upon the keyboard of human passions and whose brush -- grandiose, terrible or suave -- passed from saints to warriors, from warriors to lovers, from lovers to tigers, and from tigers to flowers.
An image of this painting may be viewed at
Detail of musket-bearer (Delacroix self-portrait)
Lometa. "Artists and Art in the Classroom" Tucson, Arizona.
1994. (Lecture presented at St Joseph's Catholic School.)
Justus, Kevin. "Art and Culture II." Tucson , Arizona.
1992. (Lecture presented at Pima Community College.)
Art Through the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.