Envision Conservatory Humanities Essay
Liberty Leading the People Analysis
Liberty is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as a state of freedom to choose, act or speak freely as one desires. In our political world, liberty gives citizens social, political, and economic privileges and rights. Unfortunately, these rights were unfairly violated in the 1830’s in France by King Charles X, leading to the July Revolution of 1830. To have a full understanding of this painting, one must first understand the root of the unrest during the early 1800s. King Charles X succeeded to the throne in France in 1824 upon the death of his brother Louis XVIII. Charles X became unpopular with his countrymen when he issued several controversial orders. They included the re-establishment of Catholic Church as the primary church, as well as compensating those citizens who suffered in the earlier Revolution of 1780’s, especially the people considered enemy of the revolution (www.historytuition.com). Further anger was ignited in the French countrymen when Charles X dissolved the House of Deputies, restricted the freedom of the press, limited adult franchise and changed the electoral system. These events along with ongoing French recession (unemployment, soaring food prices, low wages) triggered the Revolution of 1830. This revolution is celebrated by Eugene Delacroix in his painting Liberty Leading the People.
The prominent figures in Delacroix painting illustrate for the first time how French citizens of various classes and ages came together to revolt against the King and his nobility. Firstly, there is a man well dressed with a top hat, coat and rifle, representing the Bourgeoisie class leading the Revolution. Next to him is a working class man with a white shirt and worker’s cap, wielding a sword in hand. On the ground in the front is a wounded man on his hands and he represents a country worker. On the right hand side of the painting is a younger boy with energetic expressions, eager for a battle with his guns. All of these figures show determination, purpose and anticipation in their expressions. They have come from various walks of French life but all have a common goal in mind - achieve liberty and equal rights. For the Bourgeoisie, they were fighting against the absolute power of the monarchy. For the working class, they were fighting for a freedom to work in a trade for which they were trained and for better working and living conditions (www.mtholyoke.edu). On the ground on the bottom right side we can see a dead French soldier showing that the French monarchy is vulnerable to an a There is a lot of action, movement and energy that can be seen in the figures as they charge forward in the Revolution. The masses in the painting background appears to be mostly of the lower class. But the mass is large, suggesting that “power is in the hand of the people.” (www.projects.ecsf.org)
“The central figure heading this charge is the Liberty in the form of a female champion that French called Marianne” (www.smarthistory.khanacademy.org). Clearly, she is not a typical French woman of that time as the women then did not share in political or economic freedom as the man. She has features of Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom. She is physically strong and has strong will. Her facial features show determination and belief in the righteousness of the struggle. She carries the bayonet in one hand and the French Tricolor Revolutionary flag in the other leading the people over the barricades. The flag is held up high in the air, representing the French revolutionary ideals. The flying flag and the flowing of her dress demonstrate the energy of the battle. She unites the different classes and ages with the revolutionary fighter from Bourgeoisie class on her right hand side and the working class boy fighter on her left. (www.projects.ecsf.org). She is urging the revolutionaries to charge ahead and fight for their